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J.J. Modi: The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees (Bombay, 1922.) Part 3.

This electronic edition copyright 2006, Joseph H. Peterson. Last updated June 4, 2021.




Two kinds of initiation.

By initiation, we mean an introduction into a certain religious organization. by the performance of certain rites and ceremonies. Of this kind of initiation, the Parsees have two: (i) The Naôjote [navjote), which is the initiation of a Parsee child into the fold of the Zoroastrian religion. (ii) The Nâvar [nawar] and the Martab, the two grades of initiation into Priesthood. We will at first speak of the Naôjote or the initiation of a child into the religion through investiture with a sacred shirt and thread [sudre and kusti].

1. The Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society, Vol. I., Part I. (for September 1915). pages 53-54.

2. Op. cit., Vol. I., Part I., page 53.

Naojote [navjote]. Meaning of the word.

The ceremony of investing a child with sacred shirt and thread [sudre and kusti] is called Naojote.3 A Zoroastrian may put on any dress he likes. He may dress as an European, Hindu, Mahomedan or as a person of any nationality, but he must put on the sudre and kusti, i.e., the sacred shirt and thread as visible symbols of Zoroastrianism. The word Naôjote is made up of two words, Pahlavi naô [...] (Avesta nava, [...] Sans. [...] P. [...] Lat. novus, Germ. neu, Fr. neuf) 'new' and zôt ([...] Av. [...] nom. [...] sans. [...]) i.e. one who offers prayers, from zu [...] (Sans. hu [...]) to offer prayers. The initiation is so named, [179] because, it is after its performance, that a Zoroastrian child is said to be responsible for the duty of offering prayers and observing religious customs and rules as a Zoroastrian.4 The ceremony of Naojote among the Parsees corresponds to that of Confirmation5 among the Christians.

3. The modern Zoroastrians of Persia call this ceremony Shiv-Kusti.

4. Some take the word Naôjote to be another form of Naôzâd, i.e. a new birth. meaning thereby, a spiritual birth. After going through the ceremony, the child undertakes some moral or spiritual responsibility. Hence the word (West S.B.E. XXIV. chap. V, n. 1. p. 262). The Shayest Ne-Shayest speaks of it as navid zâdih (Dr. M. B. Davar's ed., p. 72, l. 1. Chap. XIII, 2) i.e. new birth.

5. "The word 'confirm' is found frequently in both the Old and the New Testaments in various shades of meaning, but with the general sense of strengthening and establishing" (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible). It is worth noting in connection with this meaning, that one meaning of zu, the Avesta root of the word zaotar is "to be strong" (Sans. P.).

The age for this investiture.

Seven is the age at which it is enjoined to initiate a child. According to Herodotus (I, 136) and Strabo (Bk. XV, chap. III. 18). the ancient Iranians commenced the education of their children at the age of five. It seems that a part of that education was religious education which prepared them for this ceremony of investiture. Plato (First Alcibiades 37) gives the age of education as seven. This then must be the age of the regular commencement of secular education after the religious investiture with the sacred shirt and thread [sudre and kusti]. The Vendidad (XV. 45) and the Dinkard (Vol. IV, chap. 170)6 support Plato's statement. In case a child is not sufficiently intelligent to understand the ceremony and to know its responsibilities, it is permitted that the ceremony can be postponed to any age upto fifteen, at which age the investiture must take place. If the ceremony is not performed and if the child is not invested with the sacred shirt and thread [sudre and kusti] at or before the age of 15, the child is said to be claimed by the [180] Druj as7 her own. The Vendidad (18:31, 54) represents the evil Druj as claiming four kinds of men as her own. Among these, the fourth kind is that of persons who, having passed the age of 15, go about without the sacred shirt and thread [sudre and kusti]. The Druj says: "He assuredly is the fourth of my those (i.e. above class of) men, he, an ill-behaved man, who, after (the age of ) fifteen years, moves about without the sacred thread and shirt."8 The Sad-Ddar {Chap. 10:1) says that "it is incumbent on all Behedins,9 (whether) males or females, who attain the age of 15 years, to bear the sacred thread, because the sacred thread is the waist-belt of humility and the symbol for preserving obedience to God, may He be honoured and respected."10 If one moves about without the sacred shirt and thread after the age of fifteen, he is said to commit the sin of vashâd dobârishnih or kushâd davârashni11 (i.e. running about uncovered or naked.)

6. Dastur Dr. Peshotan's edition.

7. Av. druj, one who does harm, deceives, speaks lies. This is personified as a female evil power.

8. Vd. 18:54.

9. i.e. Zoroatrians. Lit. members of the good religion.

10. Sad-Dar Nasar (Chap. 10:1). Edition of Mr. B. N. Dhabhar, p. 9. According to the 46th Chapter of this book, the period of 15 years includes the nine months of the child being in the womb of the mother. Thus, the latest permissible age for the initiation is 14 years 3 months. Vide also the Shayest Ne-Shayest, Chap. 10:13. It also gives the age as 14 years and 3 months (Dr. M. B. Davar's ed., p. 51). S.B.E. Vol. V. (1880) p. 321.

11. Menog-i Khrad 2:35. Vide Ervad Tehmuras's Edition with my Introduction, p. 12, l. 9 (S.B.E, Vol. XXIV, p. 11); Viraf-nameh 25:6; Patet 10.

With the age of the child, at which it is to be invested with the sacred shirt and thread, begins the responsibility of the parents to give a good religious and moral education to their children. It is enjoined, that good religious and moral education should be given to a child at an early age. According to the Pahlavi Ganj-i Shayagan and the Shayest Ne-Shayest, the parents are held [181] responsible, if they fail in this duty and if the child in consequence commits a bad action. On the other hand, the parents are believed to take a share in the meritoriousness, if the child, by virtue of the religious and moral education given to it, does a religious act.12

12. Ganj-i Shayagan, Dastur Peshotan's edition, pp. 25-26; Shayest Ne-Shayest, chaps. 10:22, 12:15, Dr. M. B. Davar's ed., pp. 53 and 65.

Sudre, i.e., the Sacred Shirt. Meaning of the word. Its Structure and Symbolism.

The ceremony of Naojote consists of the investiture of the child with sacred shirt and thread. Before speaking of the investiture itself, I will first speak of this shirt and thread and of their symbolism.

The shirt is called Sadreh, Sudre, or Sudreh. Anquetil Du Perron says, that the word "sadreh" comes from Zend "setehr paéschenghé, which means "useful clothing."13 Dastur Edalji Darabji Sanjana also derives the word similarly,14 and says that the word sud-reh means "an advantageous path." Dr. West15 takes the word to be Persian "sud-reh" meaning an advantageous path. Some derive the word from Avesta "vastra," meaning 'clothing' and say that the word "sadreh" is formed by dropping the first letter "v."16 Mr. K. E. Kanga thinks that the word is Arabic sutrah, i.e. anything which covers or protects (the body).17 The Dadestan-i Denig18 speaks of it as pirâhan (Pers. shirt). The Pahlavi Vendidad19 [182] speaks of it as shapik. It also speaks of it as tashkuk.20 A Persian gloss of the word is given as sudreh.21

13. "Tapis (etofie) utile," Zend Avesta, Tome II, p. 529.
14. Mojejâti Zarthoshti, p. 10.
15. S.B.E. Vol. V, p. 286.
16. The Zend Avesta par Darmesteter II, p. 243 n. 13. As an instance of a similar dropping of "v" "we have the case of Vîrs Sans. vir Lat. vir, which has given us the Pers. yal i.e., hero."
17. He wrote of this in a letter to me.
18. Question 39:1. Ervad Tehmuras's Text, p. 125, l. 2.
19. Chap. 18:7. Dastur Hoshang's Text, p. 566. Dastur Dr. Hoshang says, that it is the same as Pers. [...] a night shirt (ibid. Vol. II Glossarial Index, p. 209.) Anquetil Du Perron (Tome II, p. 529) takes the Pahlavi word to be Chev. In that case, it is the same as Pers. [...] below, i.e., the garment below the kusti.
20. Pahl. Vend. 17:1. Dastur Dr. Hoshang's Text, p. 561, l. 12.
21. Ibid, note 17.

The sacred shirt and thread are symbolic in their structure. The symbolism is explained not in the Avesta, but in later Pahlavi and Persian books. Some of the symbolism is explained in the Dadestan-i Denig (Ques. 39, Chap. 40). The Persian Sar-nâmeh-i-râz i Yazdâni also refers to it. The shirt is made up of white cambric, the white colour being symbolic of innocence, and as such, the symbol of the Mazdayasni religion.22 The Dadestan-i Denig enjoins that the shirt should be pure white23 and of only one fold,24 not double. The reason for the shirt to be of only one fold is said to be that Vohuman (Bahman) is "one creation" which is the first (ayôk dâm i fartûm).25 The word Vohû-mana being variously used, the signification is not clear, but what is meant seems to be this, that the whiteness of the shirt is supposed to influence for good one's mind. Again, the shirt must not be made up of one continuous piece of cloth but of two pieces sewn together on the sides, so that one piece may be on the right hand side, and the other on the left hand side, thus dividing the shirt into two parts, the front and the back part. These two parts — the front and the back — are said to be symbolic of the past and the future, both being related with each other through the present. It has an opening for the head and reaches down to the knees.

22. "Spaêta Daênayâo Mazdayasnoîsh upamanem" (Mihr Yasht. Yt. 10:126).

23. "Darûst sapit" (Ervad Tehmuras's Text, p. 125, ll. 5-6). Ques. 39 S.B.E. XVIII, Chap. 40, p. 133.

24. Ayôtâk, ayôkardeh. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

The most important part of the shirt is the gireh-bân (lit. that which preserves the knot), which signifies loyalty to, or faith [183] in, the religion. The Gireh-bân is known as the "kisseh-i-kerfeh," i.e., "the purse or the bag of righteousness." It is made in the form of a bag or purse, which rests a little below the throat. It indicates symbolically that a man has to be industrious, and has not only to fill his purse or bag with money, but also with kerfeh (righteousness). The Shayest Ne-Shayest enjoins,26 that the sacred shirt should be put next to skin, i.e., there should be no other garment under it.27 Thus, the sudre is a symbol that reminds one of purity of life and righteousness.

26. Chap. 4:7, 8. Amat shâpîk dô patmukht îkvîmûnet va kustik madam zak i avpar yidruniyen adinash ... vanâs, (Dr. Davar's ed., p.30).

27. Cf. Jeremiah 13:11, where the waist-cloth or the girdle or linen is enjoined always to "cleave to the loins", i.e., to be "worn next the skin," which process of wearing signified "righteousness and faithfulness." (Isaiah 11:5). The sudre, to a certain extent, corresponds to "the linen ephod" of the priest (1 Samuel 2:18.)

Kusti or the sacred thread. Meaning of the word. Its structure and symbolism.

The Avesta word for the sacred thread is "aiwyaonghana," lit. to gird round the body. Kûsti is its Pahlavi rendering. The word Kusti is variously derived. (a) It may be derived from Pahlavi kust [...] meaning "direction or side." Thus, the word kusti may mean "that which points out the proper direction or path." Sudre (the sacred shirt) indicates the advantageous path, and kusti (the sacred thread) indicates the proper direction to proceed on that path. Talting the same derivation, kusti may mean, "a badge distinguishing those who are on the side (kust) of (i.e., who believe in) Zoroastrianism." (b) Some derive the word from kosht waist, and say that it is so called because it is put on the waist.28 (c) Again kosht also means "limit or boundary," so kusti may mean "that which keeps us, or reminds us to keep ourselves, within proper limits or bounds." The Sudre being, as said above, "the advantageous [184] path of righteousness," the kusti, which is put over it, is "that which confines us or keeps us within the limits of that path of righteousness." The Avesta word for kusti, viz., aiwyaonghana, which literally means "to sit round or to limit," renders this derivation probable. (d) Again, some take this word kusti to be kishti, i.e., a ship, and say that it signifies that, like a ship, it carries us to the safe haven of righteousness. Whatever derivation we take, the kusti symbolizes and indicates a direction in the path of righteousness.

28. Haug and West, Glossary and Index of the Viraf-nâmeh, pp. 202-3.

The kusti is made up of lamb's wool. The wool is at first combed and then spun into fine thread on a hand-spindle called châtri. Two such long threads are prepared on two spindles or châtris, and are then twisted into one. This thread is then woven into the kusti on a hand-loom called jantar, the ends of which are movable, so that it can be adjusted to the length required. The twisted thread is passed round the loom 72 times; so, the kusti consists of 72 threads, divided into six strands, each of twelve threads. A continuous thread is made to pass, in the process of weaving, through each of the six strands. When the weaving is almost finished, and when about a foot of the threads remain to be woven, the whole thread is removed from the loom and handed to a priest to be cut and consecrated. It is the privilege of the women of the priestly class to weave and prepare a sacred thread, and it is the privilege of a priest to cut and consecrate it.

To consecrate the thread, the priest first performs the padyab kusti. He then recites the Srosh baj29 as far as the word Ashahê. He next recites the nirang (the liturgical formula) for cutting and consecrating the thread. followed by the Ashem Vohu and Yatha aha vairyo [Ahunwar].30 While reciting the latter, he cuts the kusti into two parts as he utters the word [185] shyaothnanam. On finishing the Yatha ahu vairyo, he utters in baj (i.e. in a suppressed tone) the brief Pazand formula of sraosh ashô tagi tan farman,31 and then finishes the baj. The women who prepare the kusti, generally get it cut and consecrated by the male priest members of their own families. When they have no such members and have therefore to get it consecrated by other priests, they have to pay a small fee for it. After this consecration, the kusti is returned by the priest to the owner, who now completes its weaving. First, by means of a needle, she turns the kusti, which is hollow, inside out, and then knits by hand the remaining part of the thread. Three tassels (lari),32 each of 14 threads, are formed at each end of the woven thread. The kusti is then finally washed before being used.

29. Vide Darmesteter, Le Zend Avesta II, pp. 686-88.

30. Yasna 27:14 and 13 respectively.

31. Srosh yasht, Yt. 11, (Darmesteter. Le Zend Avesta II, p. 482. "Vienne Srôsh ... Ormazd.")

32. Pers. lar. ("thin").

The kusti, being prepared from the wool of a lamb, which is considered to be an emblem of innocence and purity, is held to remind a Zoroastrian of the purity of life which he has always to observe. The 72 threads composing the kusti, symbolize the 72 has or chapters of the Yasna. The 24 threads, which make up each of the three tassels at each end of the kusti, symbolize the 24 Kardahs or sections of the Visparad, a part of the liturgical prayer; the six strands, each of twelve threads, into which the 72 threads of the kusti are divided at the time of weaving, are said to symbolize the six religious duties33 of a [186] Zoroastrian; the twelve threads in each of the six strands symbolize the twelve months of the year; the six tassels symbolize the six season festivals (Gahambars) of a Zoroastrian year; the hollow of the thread symbolizes the space between this world and the next; the doubling of the thread in the beginning symbolizes the connection between the present corporeal world and the future spiritual world; the turning of the kusti inside out symbolizes the passage of the soul from the corporeal to the spiritual world; the final uniting of all the threads into one symbolizes universal brotherhood or union. Though we have not the authority of Avesta books for an explanation of the symbolism of all the parts of the kusti, there is no doubt, that its structure had some symbolic signification from very ancient times. It symbolizes some moral precepts or ideas, just as the Janôi or the sacred thread of the Brahmins and the cord worn by the Franciscan fathers round their waists do. The Sudre and Kusti of the Parsees may remind one of the white garment and girdle of the Essenes, a Jewish sect.34

33. The enumeration of these duties differ in different Pahlavi and Pazand books. The Shayest Ne-Shayesht (Chap. 12:31, Dr. Davar's ed. p. 71, S.B.E. V, p. 351) gives the following list:— (1) the celebration of the Gâsânbârs (Gahambars) or the season festivals; (2) the celebration of the Rapithwin or the setting in of summer; (3) Sadosh (Srosh) or the performance of the funeral ceremonies for the first three days after the death of one's dear departed ones; (4) Frawardegan, i.e., the religious observances during the last 10 days of a Parsee year in honour of the dear departed ones; (5) the recital of the Khwarshed Niyayesh in honour of the sun (three times a day); (6) the recital of the Mah Niyayesh in honour of the moon (three times a month).

The Sad-Dar (Mr. B. N. Dhabhar's ed. p. 6 , Chap. 6:2; S.B.E. XXIV, p. 264), and the Menog-i Khrad (Chap. IV, 8. B. E. XXIV. p. 26, Ervad Tehmuras's Text, p. 36 Ques. 3) give a slightly different list. The Sarnâmeh-i-râz-i Yazdâni, a much later Persian book, gives a slightly different enumeration. (Vide the Persian-Gujarati edition of 1255 Yazdazardi, by Mr. Pallonji Jivanji L. Hâtariâ, Persian text, pp. 38-40).

34. Josephus.— The Antiquity of the Jews, translated by W. Whiston (1811), Vol. III, p. 444. Bk. II, Ch. 8:7.

Just as the cross is said to have existed as a symbol from times anterior to Christ, though Christ's crucifixion added to its signification, so the kusti is said to have existed as a symbol before Zoroaster. It was Jamshed of the Peshdadian dynasty who is said to have introduced it.35 Zoroaster is said to have confirmed this previous custom of putting on the kusti, [187] am also directed that it may be put on over a saored shirt (vohumanich vastarg) and with a recital of religious formulae (dînîk niranghâ).36 He held it to be a symbol of the necessity of (a) obedience to God, (b) closing up the door against sin and (c) breaking up the power of destruction.

35. Dadestan-i Denig, Chap. 39:19, Tehmuras's edition, p. 120, Ques. 38:22; Sad-Dar, Ch. 10:3. Mr. B. N. Dhabhar's ed., p. 9. A passage in the Pahlavi Vendidad also seems to allude to the fact. In the second chapter, while speaking of Jamshed, it says: (Vend. 2:5, Spiegel's Pahlavi Vend. p. 9, 1. 15) "he had given (lit. done) a symbol to men on their body."

36. Dadestan-i Denig, Chap. 39:19, Tehmuras's Text, p. 120, Ques. 38:22.

It is enjoined, that, excepting the time of bathing, a Zoroastrian must always bear the sacred shirt and thread. The thread is to be untied and retied during the day on the following occaaions:— (1) immediately after leaving bed in the morning;37 (2) every time after answering a call of nature; (3) before saying prayers; (4) at the time of bathing; (5) before meals. A modern Parsee sometimes neglects to do so on the first and fifth occasions, but he generally does so on the second, third, and fourth occasions. The Dadestan-i Denig says,38 that, from times immemorial, men turn towards light at the time of performing the kusti ceremony as it is connected with a form of prayer.

37. Sad-Dar, Chap. 82.

38. Chap. 39.

The first thing that one has to do on these occasions (except the first) is to perform what is called pâdyâb [padyab]39 or ablution. It consists of washing the face and other uncovered parts of the body like hands and feet with pure water and after reciting a short prayer-formula.40 Then he has to face the sun. If he is within the house and if the sun is not visible, he has to stand facing the east in the murning up to 12 o'clock noon, and facing the west from 12 o'clock to night-fall. At night, he has to face a lamp or the moon. If there is no moon or lamp, he may face [188] the stars. We will, later on, while speaking of the investiture by the priest, describe in detail the process of putting on the kusti.

39. Vide Purificatory Ceremonies. Journal, Vol. XI, No. II pp. 169-179.

40. Khshnaôthra Ahurahê Mazdâo Ashem Vohu, i.e., May God be pleased. Piety is the best good and happiness. Happiness to him who is pious for the best piety.

As to its symbolism the kusti is a kind of belt. "Kamar-bastan" i.e., "to tie the waist" or "to put on the belt" is a phrase which has come to mean "to be ready to serve, to be prepared for a work." So the Dadestan says, that the putting on of the kusti on the waist,4l symbolizes one's readiness to serve God.

41. The kusti of the Zoroastrian scriptures reminds one of the "girdle" of the Christian scriptures which varied from that of sack cloth (Isaiah 3:24) to that of gold (Revelation 1:13). The Avesta also speaks of the kusti or belt being golden (zaranyô-aiwyaonghanem, Yt. 15:57). Among the Israelites and the early Christians also, the operation of girding signified energetic action.

The knots of a kusti.

While putting on the kusti, one has to fasten it with two knots, one in the front and another on the back. Knots, which signify firmness and resolution, symbolize here resolutions about certain, religious and moral thoughts. While forming the first half of the first knot in the front on the second round of the thread, a Zoroastrian has to think that Ahura Mazda exists, that He is one, is holy and is matchless. While forming the second half of this first knot, he has to remember that the Mazdayasnian religion is the word of God and that he must have full faith in it. In the third round of the thread, while forming the first half of the second knot at the back, one has to remember that Zoroaster is the Prophet of God, and that he is our guide to show us the proper path of worship. While forming the second half of the second knot, he is to bear in mind that he has always to attend to "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds."42

42. Sad-Dar, Chap. 10.

Symbolic signification of the kusti, as given in the Pahlavi Datestan-i Denig.

The Dadestan-i Denig (Chap. 39, Pursishna 38) dwells at some length on the symbolic signification of the kusti. The purport of what it says is this:— Firstly, God wishes that man should serve Him and should follow [189] His path. Now, there are certain conventional ways in which a man shows his service or obedience to God. For example, he falls on his knees in his prayers; he lowers his head and bows; he raises his hands towards Heaven. All these ways or rites, which symbolize service or obedience or homage to God, are done occasionally. But the kusti is a standing symbol to signify permanently a man's readiness to serve God. As a kind of kamar-band or belt, put on in a solemn way with religious meditation and prayer, it reminds a person of his perpetual obligation to stand in the service of God. Whenever a Zoroastrian sees this kusti, this band or belt on his waist, he has to consider it as a badge of service and to say to himself "I am the servant (bandah) of God." Secondly, a person puts on a badge or belt of service and stands before his superior to receive his orders. Thus, the sacred belt or kusti reminds a man of humiliation before God, and of his readiness to receive His orders. Thirdly, the kusti is a kind of a band, i.e., a kind of a shutter. A shutter shuts up a thing, so that neither outside influence may affect that thing nor that thing's influence affect an outside thing. So, by putting the band of a kusti, a Zoroastrian, while reciting the words manashni, gavashni, and kunashni, i.e., thoughts, words, and deeds, and putting on the knots on the thread, resolves to let no outside evil influence enter into his mind and affect the purity of his thoughts, words, and deeds, and not to let that purity of thoughts, words, and deeds leave his mind. Fourthly, we learn from the Dadestan-i Denig, that the kusti reminds one to have a high ideal of character before his mind. The waist over which the kusti is fastened, divides our physical body into three parts, the higher, the middle, and the lower. The upper or the higher part of our body is the seat of heart and brain which typify higher characteristics. The lower part, which contains organs like the stomach which always require something to feed it, typifies lower characteristics of appetite, thirst, lust, etc. So, the kusti being tied on the middle portion of the body, viz., the waist, and acting as a band or stopper, must [190] remind us not to let the lower passions rise above and suppress our higher characteristics.43

43. This statement of the Dadestan reminds us of what Dr. Drummond, in his Stones Rolled Away, speaks as the three stories of our body, the upper, the middle, and the lower.

The ceremony of Naojote.

Having described the preparation and the consecration of the shirt and thread, and having explained their symbolism, we will now describe the Naojote ceremony itself, wherein a priest puts over the child the sacred shirt and thread.

Preparation before the Investiture proper. Sacred bath. Ceremonial requisites.

As a qualification of fitness to go through this ceremony, the child is expected to know a few short prayers. Of these, the knowledge by heart of the Nirang-i kusti (i.e., the prayer for the sacred thread) is indispensably necessary, because it is required to be recited whenever the sacred thread is to be untied and fastened again, on certain occasions during the day, of which we have spoken above, This Nirang-i kusti is made up of the following three prayers:— (1) Kem-na-Mazda;44 (2) Nirang-i-kusti or Ahura Mazda Khodae;45 (3) Jasa me avanghe Mazda, Mazdayasno ahmi.46 [191] Besides this prayer of Nirang-i-kusti, the prayers known as Nirang-i-ab-i Zar or Nirang-i Gaomez, Srosh-baj, and Patet, were, at one time, expected from a Zoroastrian child, to be known by heart for the Naojote ceremony. But now-a-days they are not deemed absolutely necessary.

44. This short prayer is a part of what is known as Khorda Avesta, i.e., the smaller Avesta:— It is made up of the following passages of the larger Avesta. (a) Yasna Chap. 46:7; (b) Yasna Chap. 44:16; (c) Vendidad 8:21; (d) Yasna Chap. 49:10. The prayer consists of an invocation to God for help and an expression of desire to throw off physical and moral evils.

45. This is a prayer in the Pazand language. For the text of this prayer in the Avesta character, vide Khurdeh Avesta in Zend Characters by Ervad Tehmuras Dinshaw Anklesaria (1887). pp 23-26, and Khurdeh Avesta by Mr. Framjee Minocherji Dastur (1881) pp. 5-7 For its translation, vide S.B.E., Vol. XVIII, p. 384; Le Zend Avesta, par Darmesteter, Tome II, p. 685; and Spiegel, Bleeck's Translation, Vol. of Khordeh Avesta, p. 4.

46. This short prayer, which forms, as it were, a short statement of the Zoroastrian Articles of Faith or Confession of Faith, is taken from Yasna 12:9. The first four words meaning "Oh God, come to my help " are added as an invocation, from Ohrmazd Yasht, Yt. 1:27.

On the day fixed for the investiture, a little before the time of the ceremony, the child is made to go through a sacred bath or a kind of purification known as nahn.47 Upto a few years ago, it was customary that the child should abstain from any kind of food in the morning until after the investiture. This was considered as a little sacrifice on the part of the child to testify its faith in the importance and value of the ceremony. Upto a few years ago, the ceremony was always performed in the morning, but now it is performed in the evening also according to the convenience of the parties. The very fact, that it was enjoined that during the course of the ceremony the officiating priest must recite the dawn (Hoshbami48) prayer,49 shows, that it was thought necessary that the ceremony should be performed in the morning.

47. Vide above, pp. 95-101, "Purification Ceremonies."

48. Pahl. [...] Av. usha, Sans. [...], Lat. aurora, and Av. bâmya Pers. bâm brilliant.

49. For the prayer vide Spiegel (Bleeck's Translation), Khordeh Avesta, pp 5; Darmesteter, Le Zend Avesta, Vol. II. p. 688.

After the sacred bath, the child is taken to a room where the parents and their relations and friends, and the officiating priest with one or more other priests have assembled. The upper part of its body, which is to be covered with the sacred shirt at the hands of the officiating priest, is covered over with a sheet of white cloth that can be easily removed. The child is made to sit on a low wooden stool covered over with a sheet of white cloth, in front of the officiating priest, who sits on a carpet on the floor. The child is made to sit facing the East. The following requisite things are placed on the carpet:— (1) a tray [192] containing a new set of clothes for the child, including a new sacred shirt and thread; (2) a tray of rice known as akhiâna which, at the end of the ceremony, is presented to the family priest; it is a remnant of the old system, when there was a payment in kind as well; (3) a tray of flowers which are presented at the end to the assembled priests, friends, and relations; (4) a lamp, generally a lamp fed with clarified butter: there may be additional candle-sticks burning; (5) fire, burning on a censer with fragrant sandalwood and frankincense; (6) a tray containing a mixture of rice, pomegranate grains, raisins, almonds, and a few slices of cocoanut, to be sprinkled, later on, by the priest over the child as a symbol of prosperity, the first tray, containing the suit of clothes, also contains some betel leaves and areca nuts,50 a few pieces of sugar candy, a few grains of rice, a cocoanut, a garland of flowers, a metallic cup containing kûnkûn (a kind of red powder) and a few rupees. All these things have nothing to do with the religious part of the ceremony, but they are considered in India as emblems of good luck. All these are presented by the priest, later on, to the child. The money is, at the end of the ceremony, taken by the family priest as a part of his fee, and is spoken of as the fee for the giryân or girehbân.51

50. The betel-vine gives leaves all the year round. The vine gives no fruit or flower but simply leaves which are eaten with betel-nuts. So the leaves are held as symbols of simplicity and prosperity. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, Vol. XI, No. III, pp. 317-18. The areca nut is symbolic of festivity and is, therefore, always used as an offering for the gods (in India). It is also an essential requisite for the ceremony of betrothal. (Ibid, p. 329.)

51. Vide above, p. 183, for the word.

The investiture proper.

When all the priests have taken their respective seats, the head officiating priest, who is seated face to face with the child, gives in the hand of the child a new sacred shirt. They all then recite the Patet, or the atonement prayer. The child also recites the prayer or its special sections, if it knows these by heart; but generally, it recites the Yatha Ahu Vairyo prayers in its stead. In some families, recently, instead of the Patet, the Ohrmazd Yasht is recited. Having finished [193] this, the officiating priest gets up from his seat and the child stands before him. Then follows the investiture proper which is made up of the following four parts:— (1) the recital of the Confession of Faith by the child, followed immediately by the putting on of the sacred shirt by the priest; (2) the recital of the Nirangi-i kusti with a preliminary introduction from the introductory part of the Ohrmazd Yasht (Yasht 1) upto the words vîdhvao mraotû, accompanied with the girdling of the kusti or sacred thread by the priest over the sacred shirt; (3) the final recital of the Mazdayasno Ahmi (Yasna 12:8-9) formula of the Articles of Faith; (4) the recital of the Tan-darosti or the final benediction.

1. The recital of the Confession of Faith, and the investiture with the Sacred Shirt.

The first part of the investiture consists in presenting to the child the sacred shirt, after making it recite the Confession of Faith. This prayer of the Confession of Faith is made up of two parts: (a) The Avesta khshnuman of the Yazata [yazad] Din, who presides over Religion (Din Yasht. Yasht 16).52 (b) A Pazand formula of the Confession of Faith [Din-no Kalmo].53 The confession made up of these two parts runs as follows:— "Praised be the most righteous, the wisest, the most holy and the best Mazdayasnian Law, which is the gift of Mazda. The good, true, and perfect religion, which God has sent to this world, is that which Zoroaster has brought. That religion is the religion of Zoroaster, the religion of Ahura Mazda communicated to holy Zoroaster." It ends with the recital of an Ashem Vohu prayer.

52. S.B.E., Vol. XXIII (1883) "To the most right Chista, etc.," p. 264. Spiegel, translated by Bleeck. Khordeh Avesta, p. 147. Darmesteter, Le Zend Avesta, Vol. II, p. 302.

53. Spiegel, translated by Bleeck. Khordeh Avesta, p. 191.

On the child making this public declaration of its faith in the Zoroastrian Mazdayasnian religion, the priest clothes it with [194] the sacred shirt. While putting it on, he recites the sacred formula of Yatha Ahu Vairyo, and the other priests join him in the recital.

2. The recital of Nirang-i kusti and the investiture with the sacred thread.

Then the officiating priest stands at the back of the child and both face the east if it is morning, and the west if it is evening. He at first recites the introductory part of the Ohrmazd Yasht (Yasht 1)54 and then the Nirang-i kusti.55 The substance of this prayer of Nirang-i kusti runs thus: "The Omniscient God is the greatest Lord. Ahriman is the evil spirit, that keeps back the advancement of the world. May that Evil Spirit with all his accomplices remain fallen and dejected. O Omniscient Lord, I repent of all my sins; I repent of all the evil thoughts that I may have entertained in my mind, of all the evil words that I may have spoken, of all the evil deeds that I may have done. May Ahura Mazda be praised. May the Evil Spirit Ahriman be condemned. The will of the Righteous is the most praiseworthy."

54. Spiegel, translated by Bleeck, Khordeh Avesta, p. 21. From "In the name of God ... satisfaction, etc."

55. Ibid, p. 4.

The process of putting on the kusti over the body is as follows:— The priest holds the kusti from its middle or central part in his left hand. Then he holds in his right hand a part of the two strings of the thread so formed. A part of the double strings is thus held horizontally between the two hands and the remainder hangs down vertically. This posture continues upto the recital of the words "manashni, gavashni, kunashni" in the Nirang-i kusti. With the recital of these words a part of the strin is then formed into circular curves in both the hands. Then, on reciting the words Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao, the curves are let loose, and with the recital of Ashem Vohu, the thread is passed round the child's waist. With the recital of the first Yatha Ahu Vairyo, the second round is completed, [195] the first knot in the front being tied with the recital of tho word shyaothananâm. With the recital of the same word in the second recital of the Yatha Ahu Vairyo, the second knot in the front is tied, and then, with the recital of another Ashem Vohu, the thread is passed round the waist for the third time and the final two knots at the back are tied. This completes the investiture of the sacred thread. During this investiture, the child recites with the officiating priest the Nirang-i kusti.

3. The Recital of the formula of the Articles of Faith.

The child, after being thus invested with the sacred shirt and thread, announces the last and the most important part of the Articles of Faith, given in the 12th chapter of the Yasna. It runs thus: "O Almighty! Come to my help. I am a worshipper of God. I am a Zoroastrian worshipper of God. I agree to praise the Zoroastrian religion, and to believe in that religion. I praise good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. I praise the good Mazdayasnian religion which curtails discussions and quarrels, which brings about kinship or brotherhood, which is holy, and which, of all the religions that have yet flourished and are likely to flourish in the future, is the greatest, the best and the most excellent, and which is the religion given by God to Zoroaster. I believe that all good things proceed from God. May the Mazdayasnian religion be thus praised."

The most important part of these short prayers is that, wherein the child is made to believe in the efficacy of one's own good thoughts, words and actions. A Parsee has to believe that, for the salvation of his soul, he has to look to himself. For his salvation, he has to look to the purity of his thoughts, the purity of his words, and the purity of his deeds. The pivot on which the whole of the moral structure of Zoroastrianism turns, rests upon this triad of thought, word, and deed. Think of nothing but the truth, speak nothing but the truth, do nothing but what is proper, and you are saved. [196]

4. The final Benediction.

The putting on of the sacred shirt and thread and the declaration of the Articles of Faith complete the ceremony proper. The officiating priest now makes a red kunkun mark on the child's forehead — a long vertical mark if the child is male, a round mark if female — and then gives in its hands, the cocoanut, flowers, betel leaves, areca nuts, etc., referred to above. There only remains now the recital of the Tandarusti or benedictions by the officiating priest, invoking the blessings of God upon the new initiate. He says: "May you enjoy health, long life and splendour of piety. May the good Angels and the Immortal spirits (Ameshaspands) come to your help. May the religion of Zoroaster flourish. O Almighty God! May you bestow long life, joy, and health upon the ruler of our land, upon the whole community and upon this56 . . . . May the child live long to help the virtuous. May this day be auspicious, this month be auspicious, this year be auspicious. May you live for a good number of years to lead a holy, charitable, and religious life. May you perform righteous deeds. May health, virtue, and goodness be your lot. May all your good wishes be fulfilled like those of the immortal angels. Amen! Amen!"

56. Here the name of the child is mentioned.

While reciting this, the priest showers over the head of the child, the mixture of rice, pomegranate seed, almonds, raisins, etc., referred to above. In the end, all the assembled priests again recite together, the above tandarusti (benedictions). The priests are then paid their fees. They and the assembled friends and relations are presented with flowers. The priests then depart, and the child and the parents are presented with sums of money by friends and relations. The assembled guests generally disperse after a dinner, where "Jarthoshti sikkâni salâmati," i.e., the prosperity of the Zoroastrian fold (lit., the safety or prosperity of Zoroastrian coinage) is the toast of the occasion.




It is the son of a priest only who can become a priest. This seems to be a very old custom of ancient Iran. We find it alluded to in the institutions of Ardashir Babakan, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, with whose reign commenced the Iranian Renaissance of the period. One of the innovations said to have been introduced by him, or rather one of the old customs, — more honoured in their breach than in their observance at his time, — re-introduced by him with the aid of his Dastur Taôsar or Tansar, was, that the members of different professions and trades, and their descendants, should adhere to their old professions and trades and not change them for others, except with the special permission of the king or the Government authorities. The division of the people into different professions and trades, and the regulations to restrict them to their respective lines of business, were thought to be necessary for the good of society.

"Cette répartition," says Tansar, "des hommes en quatre classes est pour le monde une garantie durable de bon ordre. Le passage d'une caste à l'autre est interdit, sauf le cas où l'un de nous montre un talent particulier. Alors on porte le cas devant le roi. Après une épreuve et une enquête prolongée faite par les Mobeds et les Herbeds, s'ils reconnaissent le mérite du candidat ils se transfèrent dans une autre caste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Le Shâhanshâh, par sa pure intelligence et la vertu de son génie, a reconstitué ces membres disjoints. Il a remis chacun à sa place distincte, l'a fait redescendre à son rang et a arrangé que personne n'exercerait un autre métier que celui [198] pour lequel Dieu l'avait créé. Par ses mains la Providence divine a ouvert aux habitants de ce maude une porte inconnue même aux âge antiques."1

1. Lettre de Tansar au Roi de Tabaristan (Journal Asiatique, Tome III, Neuvième Serie, pp. 518-520) par Darmesteter.

The division of the people into different professions and trades, referred to by Tansar, as having been made by Ardashir, was not quite unknown to the ancient Persians before his time. According to the Shah-nameh, it was made by King Jamshid of the Peshdadian dynasty. "Il (Djemschid) assigna à chacun la place qui lui convenait, et leur indiqua leur voie, pour que tous comprissent leur position et reconnussent ce qui était au-dessus et au-dessous d'eux."2 Tabari says the same thing: "Djemschid partagea toutes les créatures du monde en quatre classes ............................................ et il dit: Que chacun fasse son travail et ne s'occupe pas d'autre chose .......................... Si quelqu'un s'écartait des réglements qu'il avait établis, il le faisait mettre à mort."3 We thus find that the rules introduced by Ardashir were rather old, and that he re-established them, and declared that people must restrict themselves to their own hereditary professions. The priesthood was especially such a profession. But, we find further from Tansar's letter that Ardashir had intended to make certain exceptions. For example, a man, by special qualifications or examinations, can qualify himself for a profession, other than that of his forefathers. We find such an exception, in the case of priesthood, made in Persia, even so late as the 17th century. One Dastur Rustam Gushtasp Ardashir "is said to have sprung from the laity and not from a priestly family."4 It is said, that in the time of this Rustam Gushtasp, the then ruling Mahomedan King of Persia ordered a general massacre of the Persian Zoroastrians, unless they proved that they were monotheists and not idol-worshippers. [199] It was this layman Rustam Gushtasp who proved this to the satisfaction of the king, and he was made a Dastur. He was a good scholar. The copy of the Denkard in the Mulla Firoze Library, a copy of the Menog-i Khrad in Mr. Tehmuras Dinshaw's possession, and a Persian Rivayat in Mr. Manekji Unwala's possession are by his pen. In India, no exception seems to have been made, and it is only the son's of priests or of the members of the priestly families who can become priests. The right can be revived by any male member of the priestly family, though his immediate ancestors may not actually have been priests. For example, A may be a priest. His son B, grandson C, great-grandson D may not have entered into priesthood, but still E, the son of D, can, if he chooses, become a priest. The right can thus be revived by a descendant upto the fifth generation. It then dies and can no longer be exercised.

2. Le Livre des Rois, M. Mohl, Vol. I, pp. 49-50. Small ed., p. 35.

3. Tabari, par Zotenberg, Tome I, p. 103.

4. S.B.E., Vol, V. Introduction. p. XXXIII, West.

For a more recent English translation of Tansar's letter see Mary Boyce, The Letter of Tansar (1968)

In order to be a thoroughly qualified priest, one has to go through two grades of initiations and their ceremonies. They are: (1) the Navar and (2) the Martab.


The first initiatory ceremony for priesthood is that of Navar. The word is written and read in different ways. It is also written and react as Nâbar, Nâibar, or Nâgbar.6 Darmesteter says of this word: "L'origine et le sens exact du mot nâbar Pehlvi nâpar et nâivar, sont obscurs."7 I think the word means "a new carrier of offerings or rites." It can be derived from Avesta nawa new (Pahl. ..., Sans. ..., P. ... Lat. novus, Fr. neuf, Germ. neu, Eng. new, same as in Naojote, and bar to carry (Pahl. [...] [200] P. brdn, Sans. [...], Lat. Ferre, Eng. bear). In the Avesta words, hû-bereti, ushta-beret, vanta-bereti (Y. 62:7), the word bereti (like the Sanskrit bhriti, nourishment, food, service, capital) which is derived from the above root bar, to carry, is used for presents, offerings. So Navar, which is originally naô-bar (i.e., a new carrier of presents and offerings), means "one who is newly initiated in the work of offering prayers, rites, and sacred things to the Deity." The fact, that it call be explained in the same way as the word Naojote, the first important initiatory Zoroastrian ceremony, is a proof in support of this interpretation.

5. For "Nâvar in Iran," vide Prof. Khodayar's article in the Sir J.J.Z. Madressa Jubilee Volume, pp. 435 et seq.

6. S.B.E., Vol XVIII, Pahl. Texts II, Chap. LXXIX, 4 n. 1 — West. It is written [...] in an old manuscript of the Dadestan belonging to Mr. Tehmuras Dinshaw.

7. Le Zend Avesta,. Vol. I, Introduction, p. LIV, n. 2.

The different stages of the ceremony of initiating a priest.

To initiate a person into priesthood, several stages of ceremonies have to be gone through. They are the following:— (a) the Barashnom; (b) the Gewrâ; (c) the initiation proper. I give here an illustration which shows the initiate taking his Barashnom.

(a) The candidate for initiation into priesthood has first to go through two Barashnom purifications.8 The first Barashnom is said to be for his own tan-pâk, i.e. for the purification of his own body, the second is for the nîyat9 of the person in whose memory he becomes a Navar. [201] Between the first Barashnom and the second there may be an interval of a few days if it is so desired, or, otherwise the candidate may begin the second Barashnom on the same day when he finishes the first. In that case, both the Barashnoms take 19 days in all. During these Barashnom days, the candidate is to say his prayers five times during the day. He is expected to pass his time in a religious or pious mood. If, during any of the days of the Barashnoms, he has a pollutis nocturna, that vitiates his Barashnom. In that case, he must begin the Barashnom again. If the case happens in the second Barashnom, he has to repeat only the second Barashnom and not the first. To avoid this risk, nowadays, the candidate for priesthood goes through the initiation at a very early age, before 15 or 16, when he is likely to be free from such risk. The second Barashnom is, as said above, for the nîyat of somebody. If that somebody is a lady, he must take care that he goes through the second Barashnom and the subsequent ceremonies of gewrâ and initiation at a time, when there is no chance of that lady's passing through her monthly course. If during these ceremonies, the lady, in whose niyat he goes through the ceremony, has her monthly course, that vitiates the ceremony which must be begun again when the lady has passed through her course and purified herself. If the person, male or female, dies during the period of these ceremonies, that event also vitiates the whole thing.10

8. Vide above, pp, 102-153, Purification Ceremonies. In Persia, at present, they go through 10 Barashnoms, four of which are said to be "for his soul" ("Navar in Iran," by Prof. Khodayar Dastur Sheheryar, in the Sir J. J. Zarthoshti Madressa Jubilee Volume, edited by me, p. 435).

9. Nîyat literally means purpose, intention. Among the Parsees, many charitable deeds are said to be peformed by a person in the nîyat of a deceased relative or friend. A may build a Fire-Temple or a Tower of Silence or such other religious edifice in the nîyat of B, his father or relative or friend. It is something like what we call "in memory of" in ordinary language, in case of ordinary charitable institutions, such as schools, dispensaries, asylums, or hospitals. In the case of religious buildings, when they are consecrated, or even in the case of charitable buildings like schools or hospitals when they are opened with the religious ceremony of a Jashan, the name of the particular peraon, in whole nîyat, honour, or memory the building or institution is founded, is mentioned in the prayers. (For the form in which the name is mentioned see above, p. 81, chapter on "Death.") These religious or charitable buildings may be in the nîyat of living persons as well. In that case, the names of the living persons are recited in the prayers with a slight alteration. Instead of the words Anûsheh Ravân, i.e., 'of the dead (lit. immortal) soul', the words Zindeh Ravân, i.e., 'of the living soul,' are affixed to the name of the person in whose honour the buildings or institutions are founded. The name of the donor also is recited as "farmâyashna," i.e., one at whose direction the building or institution is founded. As in the case of the jashans for religious buildings or charitable institutions, so in the case of religious ceremonies, the name of the person in whose nîyat, i.e., purpose, honour, or memory, they are performed, is mentioned in the recital of the prayer.

10. Vide above, p. 145.

(b) On the candidate completing the Barashnom, two qualified priests (i.e., two priest who "hold the Barashnom"), who [202] have to initiate the candidate, perform, what is known as the gewrâ ceremony, which lasts for six days. This gewrâ ceremony, which qualified them to initiate the candidate, consists of reciting the Yasna with its ritual for six consecutive days. The word "gewrâ" comes from the Avesta root garew, Sanskrit grah, German engreifer, Pers. giraftan to acquire, to take hold of. Both the priests perform the Yasna ceremony, i.e., recite the whole of the Yasna with the necessary ritual. One of the two priests who recites the whole Yasna is called Joti (Zaota), i.e., lit. the performer of ceremonies or the offerer of offerings. The other priest who assists him in going through the ceremony is called Râthwi.11 The priest, who performs the ceremony as the Joti, is technically said to have "taken the gewrâ," i.e., to have acquired the qualification of continuing the ceremony. The priest who takes the gewrâ on the first day, is said to have taken the first gewrâ. He is to pass a night of vigil and watchfulness. If he has nocturnal pollution, he is said to have lost the efficacy or the qualification of his gewrâ. In that case, the gewrâ must be repeated the next day. If the efficacy continues, on the next day, in the morning, he "gives the second gewrâ" to his colleague. In this case, the other priest recites the Yasna as Joti and the priest who gives the gewrâ acts as a Râthwi. He, now, in his turn has to pass the night in vigil. Thus each of the two priests has to "take the gewrâ" on an alternate day. These gewrâ ceremonies are to be performed for six days. To avoid the chance of the gewrâ being vitiated by the failure of the vigil of the priest holding the gewrâ for the particular day or by some other cause, at times, three priests are made to take part in the gewrâ ceremonies. Instead of one priest taking the gewrâ, two perform the ceremony, so that, in case one fails to observe the required vigil and is disqualified for some cause, the other may serve, and the candidate may not be disappointed and the initiation not delayed. The candidate [203] has, during these six days, to pass his time in prayers during the five Gahs and to observe all the observances of saying the grace at meals, etc. He is not to come in contact with any non-Zoroastrian.

11. Râthwi or Râspi [raspi]. Av. rathwiskara lit. one who arranges the religious requisites at their proper (rathwya) places (Gah Uzerin, 5).

(c) On the sixth day of the gewrâ ceremony, the priest who has taken the sixth gewrâ, i.e., has recited the Yasna with its ritual as the Joti on the sixth day, initiates the candidate. The candidate takes his bath in the morning with all its formalities and puts on a new set of white clothes. He puts on a white turban which is a symbol or insignia of priesthood. The parents of the candidate invite a few friends, both male and female, to witness the ceremony. In mofussil towns like Naosari, a general invitation to males is passed round, through a crier, in the whole town. So, any Zoroastrian who chooses may attend.

At the appointed hour at about nine o'clock in the morning, a procession is formed to take the candidate to the temple for initiation. At Naosari, the headquarters of the priesthood, the assembly gathers at the house of the candidate. Gentlemen gather outside the house and the ladies inside, and they all then go to the temple in a procession. The candidate walks in the front with the head-priest of the town, or, in his absence, with his deputy, on his right. Other elders of the community follow. The ladies follow last. In Persia, the ladies throw dry fruits and silver coins over the candidate. In Bombay, the Parsees not having quite separate quarters, and the city being too thickly populated to arrange for the ceremonial procession, the candidate stays in the fire-temple itself, for the six days of the gewrâ. So, the gathering assembles at the temple itself and the procession also is formed there. It formally moves from one part of the temple to another. The candidate is dressed in his full dress consisting of Jâmâ (Pers. jâmeh), which is a loose gown-like dress of white linen, and pichori, a kind of linen-belt, put round the waist. All the male members of the gathering are similarly dressed in their full [204] dress. The candidate carries a shawl in his left hand, it being an insignia of au office or function which a person holds for the time being.

The gurz or the mace.

The candidate carries in his right hand a gurz or a mace. Gurz is the Avesta vazra, Sans. [..], a mace or club. It symbolizes that the candidate is now going to be a member of the church militant and undertakes to fight against all evils, physical or moral. In the Khorshed Nyaish [Khwarshed Niyayesh], Mihr Yazad or the Angel Mithra, the God of Light, Justice, and Truthfulness is represented as carrying a vazra or mace to strike it over the heads of the Daevas or the evil powers (Yazâi vazrem hunivikhtem kameredhê paiti daevanam).12 The Fire-temple where the candidate is going to be initiated is called Dar-i-Meher [Dar-e Mihr], i.e., the Port or the Gate of Mihr (Mithra). So, he carries the gurz with him as the insignia of his coming office, in which he has to fight against the enemies of Light, Justice, and Truthfulness and has to make his way for the church triumphant in Heaven.13

12. Ny1.15.

13. For further particulars about the gurz, vide my paper, "The Gurz as a Symbol among the Zoroastrians" (Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, Vol. VIII, No.7, pp. 478-96). My Anthropological Papers, Part I, pp. 313 et. seq.

Preparation in the temple.

On the procession arriving at the Fire-temple, the candidate goes to the Yazashna-gah, where he is to perform the Yasna ceremony. The assembled priests are generally seated on carpets spread on the floor. The candidate removes his upper garments which form his full dress, performs the padyab-kusti, and puts on the padân (mouth-veil).14 Thus prepared, he is brought before the assembly by one of the two priests, who [205] asks for permission to initiate him. He asks: "Gentlemen of this gathering (Anjuman, Avesta Hanjumana), doth it please you that this candidate may be initiated?" The Head-priest present, after the interval of a few seconds, takes the silence of the assembly for its assent and nods his head, or puts forward both his hands, to signify the acquiescence of the gathering.

14. In Persia, the Padân hangs from a crown or a turban, decorated with gold and silver coins. The Sir J. J. Z. Madresa Jubilee Volume (pp. 435-38, Mr. Khodâyar's article) gives an interesting account of what is called, the "Vers" and "Verd" ceremonies in the Navar initiation there.

The candidate must be free from leprosy15 or any wound from which blood oozes, otherwise he would be rejected and the necessary permission refused. It is to give the assembly an opportunity to see or examine him well, that he is presented before it after the removal of the upper garments.16 The candidate then returns to the Yazashna-gah to go through the ceremonies of his initiation and to recite the Yasna with its ritual. The visitors disperse after flowers and rose-water have been presented to them. If the father or the guardian of the candidate is well off, he distributes money among the assembled priesthood. Relations and friends are, at times, feasted at noon and even at night, if parents can afford to do so.

15. On the Iranian horror of leprosy, cf. Vendidad 2:29, 37; Aban Yasht, Yt. 5:92. Herodotus I, 138, "Whoever of the citizens has the leprosy or scrofula is not permitted to stay within a town, nor to have communication with other Persians." According to Ctesius, Megabyzus escaped from the hands of his captors, on pretending that he had leprosy.

15. It is said that, in Persia the candidate is taken to an adjoining room and there made stark naked and examined (vide Mr. Khodayar's article in the Sir J. J. Z.Madressa Jubilee Volume, p. 437).

On retiring to the Yazashna-gah, the candidate recites the Mino-Navar Yasna (Yasna without the Visparad)16 with its ritual, he acting as the joti and the priest who initiates him acting as the raspi. In the afternoon, he performs the baj17 ceremony and takes his meals, after which he performs the Afrinagan ceremony. I give here an illustration which shows the Navar initiate performing the Yasna ceremony.

16. Vide Darmesteter, Le Zend Avesta, Vol. I, p. LXVII.

17. Ibid, Vol. II, pp. 152-53.

On the second and the third day, the candidate is permitted to have only one meal. The above three ceremonies are repeated [206] in honour of Srosh on the second day, and the baj is performed in the morning instead of in the afternoon as on the first day. On the third day, the above three ceremonies are again repeated in honour of Siroza (the Yazatas presiding over the thirty (si) days (rouz [or ruz]) of the month). On the fourth day, the Yasna is recited with the Visperad, the baj and Afrinagan in honour of Ahura Mazda. Thus qualified, the priest now called herbad (Avesta, aethrapaiti, teacher) can perform the Afrinagan, Naojote, marriage, and such other ceremonies, but not the Yasna, the Vendidad or the baj ceremonies.

It appears, that the nawar has been from the first, a ceremony of trial, of self-abnegation, self-denial, and self-renunciation. The following facts point to that inference:-

1. The candidate is expected to pass his days during the continuation of the whole ceremony which lasts about a month, in a kind of retreat, in order to be free from worldly thoughts and to be engaged in pious thoughts; he must sleep on the floor and not on a cot, and take his meals at stated hours after prayers. According to the present custom, if the candidate has a pollutis nocturna during the two Barashnoms, he is disqualified and has to go through the Barashnom again, because the untoward occurrence is held to show that he was not passing his time in pure divine meditation, which he was expected to do, as a would-be priest, but that he thought of worldly matters.18 2. During the last four days, when he is regularly being initiated and performs the Yasna ceremony himself as jôti, he has to take only one meal on the second and third days, to prove that he has control over hunger and thirst and hence over other passions.

18. If this occurs during the last four days, the candidate is called nâbûd (Pers., lit. 'non-existent' ) and is absolutely rejected as unfit for the priesthood.

A good deal of the original lofty ideal seems to be losing its ground now. In order to avoid the risk of failure in the test of [207] pious meditation, self-abnegation, or control of passions, candidates are made to go through the initiatory ceremony in their early boyhood before the age of fifteen or sixteen, when according to the course of nature, they are expected to be free from pollutis nocturna. Again now-a-days, it is not only those boys, who are really intended to be priests in the future, that go through the initiation, but many others who are intended by their parents for other walks of life. The latter are made to go through it with the idea, that it is a religious ceremony worthy to be gone through. There are many medical men, lawyers and merchants of the priestly class, who have been made to go through it by their parents in their boyhood. That being the case, the whole of the Yasna is not learnt and not recited but only a part. One would not object, and must not object, to this procedure, if even in these cases, the original lofty ideal were kept in mind. The salutary effect would not be lost, if a boy were to be made to go through the discipline of the initiation in an intelligible manner. A doctor, a lawyer, or a merchant, if trained in early boyhood to a little discipline, pious meditation, self-control, and self-abnegation, would be a better man in his profession by that kind of discipline, trial, and training. What is wanted is, that the original high ideal must always be kept in view.


The second degree for priesthood is known as Martab.19 The degree of navar does not entitle a priest to perform, what may be called, the ceremonies of the inner circle of the Fire-temple. He cannot perform the Yasna, the Vendidad and the Baj ceremonies. He cannot officiate at the purification ceremonies [208] of nân and barashnom. In order to qualify himself to do so, he must go through the Martab ceremony. Besides the Yasna and the Visparad, which he had to read for his Navarhood, he has now to read the Vendidad.

19. The word is Arabic murattab lit. prepared, classified. It seems to be connected with the word martaba a step, dignity. It may thus mean, one who has risen to a higher step or grade or dignity. Some speak of this initiation as Marâtib. In that case, it is Arabic marâtib, i.e., grades and gradations of rank. The sense then would be "one who has passed through more than one grade or rank."

For this ceremony, the candidate has to go through one barashnom of 10 days. On the 11th day, he, in company with a qualified priest, performs the khub ceremony20 and recites for it the Mino Navar Yasna with its ritual. On the second day in the morning, he has to recite another Yasna in honour of Srosh, and at midnight he recites the Vendidad. This completes the martab ceremony and he is now entitled to perform and recite any of the Zoroastrian rituals and prayers.

20. The khub is of two grades; for the major, the recital of the whole of the Yasna with the full ritual is requisite; for the minor, the recital of a few has or sections (III to VII) are requisite.

The Zoroastrian Navarhood, in some of its features, reminds us of the Christian Knighthood of olden times, when Knighthood was a kind of religious order. The following passage presents many points of similarity between an Iranian Navar and an ancient Christian Knight: "The young man, the squire, aspiring to knighthood, was first of all stripped of his garment and put into a bath, the symbol of purification. On his coming out of the bath, they clad him in a white tunic, the symbol of purity, a red robe, emblematic of the blood he was to shed in the cause of the faith, and a black doublet, in token of the dissolution which awaited him as well as all mankind. Thus purified and clothed, the novice kept a rigorous fast for twenty-four hours. When evening came, he entered the church and passed the night in prayer, sometimes alone, sometimes with a priest and with sponsors who prayed in company with him. . . . When the sermon was over, the novice advanced towards the altar with the sword of knighthood, suspended from his neck; the priest took it off, blessed it and attached it to his neck again. The novice then went and knelt before the lord, who was to knight him. 'To what end,' the lord [209] then asked him, 'Do you desire to enter into this order'? If it is that you may be rich, repose yourself, and be honoured without doing honour to knighthood, then you are unworthy of it.' "

The points of similarity are the following:—(1) Both, the Iranian Navar and the Christian Knight, had to go through purificatory baths. (2) Both had a white dress as a symbol of purity. (3) The Knighthood had its fasts. The Navarhood had no fasts but a kind of abstention or temperance. (4) Both had some weapons to serve as symbols. The Knights had swords; the Nawars had gurzs or maces. (5) Both the orders signified poverty and a desire to serve and work against evil.





Consecration is "the act or ceremony of separating from a common to a sacred use, or of devoting and dedicating a person or thing to the service and worship of God" by certain rites or solemnities. Consecration does not make a person or thing sacred but declares him or it to be sacred, that is devoted to God or to divine service; as the consecration of priests among the Israelites; the consecration of the vessels used in the temple; the consecration of a bishop.1 The Parsees have no consecration of persons, in the sense in which the word is used among the Christians, e.g., the consecration of a bishop. If, by consecration is meant the conferring of a certain qualification upon a person to enable him or to entitle him to do a certain religious function or rite, they have such a consecration. But the principal idea is, that the person seeks consecration by his own willing acts rather than any other person conferring the consecration. So, in the case of a person, the more proper word, from a Parsee point of view, is "initiation" than "consecration." I have already spoken of these initiation ceremonies under a separate head.2 Among things, there is the consecration of the following:-

1. Webster.

2. Vide above, Chapters VII and VIII.
  • I. The Sacred Fires and the Fire-Temples.
  • II. The Towers of Silence.
  • III. The Alat (implements, apparatus), i.e., religious requisites.
  • [211]

    The three grades of the Sacred Fire.

    1. There are three grades of the Sacred Fire—(A) The Sacred Fire of the Atash Bahram, (B) that of the Atash, Adaran and (C) that of the Atash Dadgah. These three have their different rituals of consecration and also different rituals for the daily prayers at the five times (gahs) of the day, when they are fed with fresh fuel. We will, at first, speak of the process of consecrating these three grades of the sacred fire.

    (A) Consecration of the Sacred Fire of the First Grade the Atash Bahram.

    The 16 fires which make up one.

    The ritual formulated for the consecration of the sacred fire seems to have been developed from certain passages of the eighth chapter of the Vendidad (8:73-96), where, it is enjoined, that the fires used for different purposes and by different tradesmen may be carried from their places of use and business and enshrined in a Dâd-gâh (Av. Dâityo-gâtu), i.e., in a proper place. The list of fires there enumerated is as follows:— Fires used (1) in burning a corpse, (2) in burning filth, (3) in burning dirt. (4) The fire used by a potter, (5) a glass-blower, (6) a coppersmith, (7) a goldsmith, (8) a silversmith, (9) an ironsmith, (10) a steelsmith, (11) a baker, (12) a furnace-worker, (13) a tinsmith, (14) a shepherd, (15) a military man or soldier, (16) a neighbour.

    The process of collecting the different fires and of purifying and consecrating them is so long and intricate, that, naturally, authorities differ in the matter of the details, though they agree on broad general principles. While writing on the subject of this process, the late Dastur Minocheherji Jamaspji Jamaspasana3 [212] said, that in the case of all the six Atash-Bahrams founded and consecrated in Bombay and elsewhere, there has not been any similarity in the matter of the process. The process has differed in details. In the following account, I principally follow the description given by the late Dastur Erachji Sohrabji Meherji Rana.4 The Ithoter Revayet also refers to this subject.5

    3. I was indebted to the late Dastur Kaikhosru Jamaspji for kindly giving me a perusal of his late grandfather's manuscript notes on the subject.

    4. Vide his account in the " Tamâm Avestâ ni Ketâb, " published by Mr. Dadabhoy Cowasji, Vol. II, pp. 213-44.

    5. Published in 1346.

    The list of the Vendidad given above has suggested to later ritualists the thought of collecting 16 kinds of different fires to produce, out of them, one fire for consecration. The different fires now collected in practice are the following :— (1) The fire used in burning a corpse, (2) the fire used by a dyer, (3) the fire from the house of a king or a ruling authority, (4) that from a potter, (5) a brick-maker, (6) a fakir or an ascetic, (7) a goldsmith, (8) a mint, (9) an ironsmith, (10) an armourer, (11) a baker, (12) a brewer or distiller or an idol-worshipper, (13) a soldier or a traveller, (14) a shepherd, (15) fire produced by atmospheric lightning, (16) household fire or fire from the house of any Zoroastrian.

    Different stages of the consecration of the Sacred Fire of the Atash Bahram, the Fire-Temple of the First Degree.

    Each of the above fires is at first collected, purified, and consecrated in a certain manner. All these fires, thus collected, purified, and consecrated, are united into one fire, which is then consecrated as one united fire. This consecrated fire is then enthroned in a Temple which itself is previously consecrated. I will describe these processes under the following heads:—

    1. Collection of the 16 fires.
    2. Purification of the 16 fires.
    3. Consecration of the 16 fires.
    4. Unition of the 16 consecrated fires.
    5. Consecration of the united Sacred Fire. [213]
    6. Consecration of the Temple itself.
    7. Enthroning the united fire.

    1. The process of the collection of the 16 fires.

    The fires of the above-mentioned 16 tradesmen or functionaries are collected, purified, and consecrated according to a fixed procedure. We will here describe in detail the process of collecting or fetching the first kind of fire, viz., that from a burning corpse:— A Zoroastrian is to go to a burning ground and ask for a portion of the fire that burns a corpse.6 If the party gives it of his own accord, at the time when the burning process takes place, well and good. If not, the Zoro­astrian must wait there till the whole of the corpse has been burnt, and then, when the relations and friends of the deceased go away, he is to take a portion of the fire left. He must ask a non-Zoroastrian to take out for him a certain portion of the fire from the burning mass. If a non-Zoroastrian is not available, or if he refuses to do that work for him, then two Zoroastrian laymen may perform the padyab kusti, hold the paiwand, recite the Srosh Baj upto Ashahê,7 and then hold over the fire, at the distance of about a foot, a perforated ladle containing a little powdered sandalwood and frankincense and such other substance as may easily ignite. They must not let the ladle touch the fire. The heat of the fire from the burning corpse easily ignites the fuel on the perforated ladle. The fire so ignited must be taken by the laymen to an open place. They must then finish the Baj and have a bath of the riman purification. As the fire is that which has burnt an impure corpse, it is believed to have a part of the corpse's defilement; so, the carriers of it are required to purify themselves.

    6. Dastur Minocheherji's above-mentioned notes say, that it is prefer­able to have, if possible, the fire from a Brahman's corpse.

    7. The Ithotar Revayet (i.e., the 78 Revayets, p. 9) is over-scrupulous and enjoins that when one goes before the fire of the corpse all those precautions for pollution, as are required in the case of the corpse itself, should be observed.

    The fire thus brought from a burning ground is then fed with fuel and is placed on a piece of ground open to wind. By its side and in a windward direction, they place a heap of powdered sandalwood, frankincense, and such other easily combustible substances. The heat and the blaze of the fire, carried by the wind towards the heap, ignites it. When thus ignited, this fresh fire is fed with fuel. Then, again, by its side another heap of powdered sandalwood, frankincense, and such other combustibles is placed in such a position, that the blaze and the heat of the fire produced as above may be carried by the wind towards it and that it may be easily ignited. This process is repeated 91 times. The distance between each burning fire and the next heap to be ignited must be about half a gaz or about a foot. Each preceding fire is allowed to extinguish itself. The fire ignited for the 91st time is then considered to be fit for use and it is kept burning by being regularly fed. This is the process of collecting the first fire in the above list of 16 fires, viz., the fire of a burning corpse.8

    8. The Ithoter Revayet enjoins a more tedious process. It says, that the fire brought, as said above, from a corpse may be purified by passing through the process over nine pits. Over it, one Yasna of Srosh, one Visparad and one Vendidad of Srosh must be recited. In this way, the whole process is to be recited 91 times, i.e., 91 fires may be brought at different times from a burning corpse and purified and then collected together.

    All the other 15 fires are similarly collected, but the process differs in the following points:— (a) The number of times, for which the above process is to be repeated, varies. For example, in the case of the second fire in the above list, viz., the fire of a dyer, the number of times for which the process is repeated is 80. I give below9 a table which shows at one sight, the number of times through which the process of collection, the process of purification, and the process of consecration, passes. (b) In the case of the other fires, no defilement is sup­posed to be attached to them as that to the fire of the burning [215] corpse; so, the laymen, who fetched them from their respective places, need not personally go through any kind of riman purifi­cation as that required in the case of the fire that burnt a corpse, (c) Again, a portion of any one of the next 15 fires can be bodily lifted up from the mass and carried to the place of its use. It need not be produced by the ignition of powdered fuel on a perforated ladle, as in the case of the fire that burnt a corpse. The rest of the process is the same.

    9. Vide below, pp. 222-23.

    In the case of the sixteenth fire, the household fire, it must be that of the house of a Mazdayasnian or a Zoroastrian. But in this class are included several fires. A Zoroastrian may be a priest or a layman. So, the fire must be made up of the fires from the houses of a priest and a layman. Among the priests, there are the Dasturs or the head-priests and Mobads or ordinary priests. So, the fire from the house of the priests must be made up from two fires, fetched from the houses, both of a Dastur and of a Mobad. Again, to this last class of fire, viz., the household fire, must be added the fire produced by friction which was the earliest primitive way of producing fire for household purposes. There were two ways of producing fire by friction in early days, viz., (a) the friction of two pieces of flint and the friction of two pieces of wood. So fires produc­ed by both these two ways of friction must be added to the household fire fetched from the houses of priests and laymen.

    At first, the household fire, made up from the fires of the houses of the priests and laymen, must be made to pass 40 times through the above process of ignition, wherein a fire is produced by some combustibles being placed in the windward direction of a burning fire. To the household fire, thus collected, may be added the fire produced by the above-said two methods of friction. The fire thus formed by ignition or combustion must again be passed 144 times through the above-described process.


    2. The process of purification.

    The fire thus collected is considered fit to be handed over to priests for purification and consecration. Two priests take charge of it. They perform the padyâb-kusti, hold the paiwand and recite the Srosh Baj upto the word Ashahê. While reciting the Srosh Baj, they recite in it the Dasturi also as in the case of the Barashnom purification.10 They then proceed to purify the fire. In this process of purification, they follow the precepts of the Vendidad (8:73-78) which refers to the practice of purifying a fire that is burning a corpse. It enjoins as follows:— (a) At first, the burning matter may be removed and its further burning may be stopped. (b) Then a Zoroastrian may take a perforated ladle, place some easily ignitible fuel upon it and then bold it above the burning fire so as not to touch it. The heat of the original fire, which was burning the corpse, passes up through the holes of the ladle and ignites the fuel on it. The fire so produced must be put by the side of the fire that was burning the corpse at a distance of a vitashti, i.e., about 10 inches from it. The original fire may then be allowed to extinguish itself, (c) The fire thus prepared by the first stage of purification may then be fed with further fuel. Then a second fire may be pre­pared from it by the above process, i.e., by holding over it at some distance, a perforated ladle containing some easily ignitible fuel. On the fuel being ignited, this second fire thus prepar­ed may be placed by the side of the first fire at a distance of about 10 inches. The second fire must be fed with further fuel and the first fire allowed to extinguish itself in its turn. This is the second stage of purification. This process is repeated nine times. Just as a man, that has come into contact with a dead body, has to be purified at nine different magas or pits, each at the distance of a fixed measure, so the fire that was defiled by coming into contact with a dead body had to be purified nine times. After the ninth process, the fire produced thereby is considered to be pure.

    10. Vide above, Barashnom Purification, p. 128, Vide also p. 64.

    The modern practice in conformity with the Vendidad.

    Now the modern practice of purifying the fire, fetched or collected as above, follows the above process enjoined by the Vendidad but with an increased number of times. Two priests take charge of the fire collected for them, as said above, by two laymen. They hold over the fire, at the height of about half a gaz or about 12 to 15 inches, a perforated ladle containing powdered sandalwood, frankincense and such other easily combustible substances. When ignited, they place it on a clean place and feed it with fuel.

    The later Rivayats say, that the priests are to prepare 91 magas or pits, each with a little powdered fuel of the above kind. Then they are to place the fire kindled as above into the first of these pits. Then they are to hold a perforated ladle over the fire kindled as above and get the powdered fuel over it ignited. They are to place the fire so ignited in the second pit which is full of powdered fuel. This fuel further kindles the fire. They are to hold the perforated ladle over it and thus repeat the process over the 91 pits for 91 times. The fire thus produced at the 91st time is said to be purified and fit for consecration. Each of the pits is to be connected with the preceding adjoining pit by a paiwand formed of apiece of string or apiece of sandalwood. As the process goes on, the preceding fire or the fire of the preceding pit is allowed to extinguish itself. Now, it being not practicable in towns to have a large open place, where 91 pits of the above kind can be provided, in present practice, the pits are replaced by fire-vases, and the process is repeated in vases. The number of censers need not be 91. A few as would allow the process to be repeated 91 times can do.

    This is the process of the purification of fire named first in our above list, viz., the fire of a burning corpse. Similar is the process for purifying the other 15 fires. But the number of times for which the process is repeated is different for the different kinds of fire. The number of times for the purification process [218] is in each case the same as the number of times for the collection process. The table which I give below (pp. 222-23) will show this at one glance.

    3. The process of consecrating the 16 fires.

    The fire, collected and purified as above, is placed in a censer and taken to the place where the religious ceremonies for the consecration are to be performed. Two priests, who have gone through the Barashnom, take a portion of that fire, in a separate censer, and recite over it an Yasna and a Vendidad ceremony with the Khshnuman, or in honour of, Dadar Ahura Mazda. The fire, over which these recitals — one of the Yasna and one of the Vendidad — with their ritual are made, is kept separate in a separate censer and constantly fed. In the meantime the fire collected and purified as above, and out of which only a portion was removed on the first day for consecration, is fed and kept burning. On the second day, another portion out of it is taken and the Yasna and Vendidad ceremonies are performed over it in honour of Ahura Mazda. The fire (which is a portion of the same first kind of fire, viz., the fire of a burning corpse) thus consecrated on the second day is mixed up with the fire consecrated on the first day and which, as said above, is kept burning in a separate censer. On the third day again, another portion of the above purified but unconsecrated fire of the first kind, is taken and consecrated as on the first two days with a recital of the Yasna and the Vendidad in honour of Ahura Mazda. The fire (i.e., the third portion of the first kind of fire) thus consecrated on the third day, is mixed up with the fire which was consecrated on the first two days and which was united or mixed up on the second day.

    Then, similarly, a portion of the purified but unconsecrated fire of the first kind may be taken each day from roz Ohrmazd (i.e., the first of the month) to roz Anagran (i.e., the 30th day of the month), i.e., for 30 days and consecrated each day by the recital of one Yasna in the morning and one Vendidad after mid­night, both recited in honour of the Yazata or the angel presiding [219] on. the particular day on which the consecration takes place. For example, on roz (day) Ohrmazd, the recital of the Yasna and the Vendidad must be in honour of Ahura Mazda; on roz Vohuman, in honour of Vohuman, and so on. The fire consecrated each day is to be united with the united fire made up of the consecrated fires of all the preceding days including the first three days.

    On the completion of the first round of the ceremonies for the 30 days of the month, commencing with Ohrmazd (the first day) and ending with Anagran (the 30th day), a second round of 30 days, in the same way as above, must be gone through. Then a third round must be similarly gone through, but not for the whole of the month, i.e., for 30 days, but only upto the Zamyad [Zam] roz, i.e., the 28th day. Thus, as shown above, altogether 91 recitals of the Yasna and 91 of the Vendidad are to be repeated for consecrating the fire of the first kind. The following table explains this:—

    On the first three days in honour of Ahura Mazda ...3
    On 30 days from the 1st day (roz Ohrmazd) to the 30th day (roz Aneran) of the month...30
    On 30 days as above for the second time... 30
    On 28 days from the 1st day to the 28th day (roz Zamyad [Zam]) during the third month...28


    Now, in the recital of the Yasna and the Vendidad, two priests are required. So, if there be one pair of priests, they would take 91 days to complete the consecration of the first kind of fire, viz., the fire of the burning corpse. One pair can perform and recite more than one Yasna during the Hawan gah or the morning hours, but they can perform only one Vendidad in the Hoshain [Ushahin] gah or after midnight. So, one pair would take at least 91 days to complete the consecration of the first kind of fire. But more than one pair can take part — and they generally [220] do so — in the consecration of fires. In that case, the time would be shortened. Then the recital in honour of the Yazatas from Ohrmazd to Anagran need not be from day to day, i.e., on the respective days on which they presided. What is considered as essentially wanted is 91 recitals of the Yasna and 91 of the Vendidad, of which the first three are in honour of Ahura Mazda, the next 30 in honour of the 30 Yazatas in their order, the second 30 also in honour of the 30 Yazatas, and the last 28 in honour of the 28 Yazatas from Ohrmazd to Zamyad [Zam]. The fire of the first kind, thus united and consecrated after 91 recitals of the Yasna and the Vendidad, (the number of the recitals being the same as that of the processes of collection and of those of purification), is to be kept apart in a censer marked with its name. A similar process is to be gone through over the other 15 fires.

    Consecration of the other 15 fires.

    In the case of the other 15 fires the details of the process of consecration are well nigh the same. The points of difference are two: Firstly, the number of recitals of the Yasna and Vendidad over the portions of fire, i.e., the number of the processes of consecration varies in each. For example, in the case of the fires Nos. 2, 3, 4, etc., viz., that of the dyer, the king, potter, brick-maker, etc., the number of recitals is 80, 70, 61, etc., which was also the number of its processes of collection and purification. Secondly, the order of the Yazatas with whose Khshnuman, i.e., in whose honour, the recital is made, differs. For example, in the case of the second kind of fire, viz., that of the dyer, the recitals of the Yasnas and the Vendidads for the first three days are in honour of the second Yazata Vohuman. Then the remaining 77 recitals begin from Vohuman, the second Yazata, and taking two rounds of 30 days end in the third round at Rashu, the eleventh Yazata. In the case of the third kind of fire, the 1st three recitals must be in honour of the third Yazata Ardwahisht. Then the remaining 67 begin with the third Yazata and end with Adar [221] in the third round. In the case of the fourth kind of fire, they are in honour of the fourth Yazata Shahrewar and so on, so that the recitals for the 16th kind of fire are in honour of the 16th Yazata Mihr.

    I append here a table, giving the particulars, above referred to, about the different kinds of fires that are united to form the Sacred Fire of the Atash Beheram [Warharan]. (1) The first column gives a list of the names or the kinds of fires. (2) The second column gives the number of times the processes of (a) col­lection, (b) purification, and (c) consecration are repeated. The number for the repetition of each of all these three different kinds of processes is the same in the case of each of the fires.11 (3) The third column gives the names of the Yazatas with whose Khshnuman, or in whose honour, the consecration recitals of the Yasnas and the Vendidads for the first three days and nights are to be made. (4) The fourth column gives the names of the Yazatas in whose honour the rest of the consecration recitals of the Yasna and the Vendidad are made and the number of the recitals. The number of recitals given in this column and the three recitals in honour of each of the Yazatas mentioned in the third column, make up the number of the second column. The second column of the above list shows that there must be in all, 1,128 consecration recitals of the Yasna during the morning hours of the day, and of the Vendidad after the mid­night hours. One pair of priests can recite only one Vendidad. So, if only one pair of priests were to perform the ceremonies of consecrating the sixteen fires, they would take 1,128 days, i.e., about 37 to 38 months. But generally more than one jôr or pair is employed in the consecration ceremonies. So, the whole ceremony is gone through in about a year or even less than a year. Again, several Jashan days, i.e., religious feast days and the Gahambar feast days occur during the time that the whole process of consecration lasts. On such feast days, one Yasna and one Vendidad in honour of that particular Jashan must be recited. On the occasion of the Gahambar, i.e., the season festivals, the Visperad in honour of the Gahambar festival must be recited. The number of these additional recitals cannot be fixed as that depends upon the time of the year.

    11. E.g. in the case of the first fire, there are 91 repetitions for collec­tion, 91 for purification, and 91 for consecration.
    [222] [223]

    A Table giving the particulars about the different kinds of Fires that are united to form the Sacred Fire of the Atash Beheram and showing the number of the processes of Collection, Purification, and Consecration.

    The Kind of Fire. No. of times for (a) the Collection, (b) Purification, and (c) Consecration processes. Names of the Yazatas in whose honour the three recitals of the Yasna and Vendidad are said for the first three days. Names of the Yazatas in whose honour the rest of the recitals of the Yasna and Vendidad are said and the number of the recitals. By the word "first" is meant the first, beginning with the Yazata mentioned in the third column.
    1. Fire of a burning corpse91Ahura Mazda 3 recitals in honour of the first 28 Yazataa from Ohrmazd to Zamyad and 2 in honour of Mahraspand and Anagran. Thus (28 X 3=) 84 + (2 X 2=) 4= 88.
    2. ... Dyer80Vohuman 3 in honour of the first 17 Yazatas from Vohuman to Rashnu (i..e. 51) and 2 in honour of the next 13 (i.e. 26). In all 514-26=77.
    3. ... King or ruling authority70Ardwahisht 3 in honour of the first 7 Yazatas from Ardwahisht (i.e. 21) and 2 in honour of the remaining 23 (i.e. 46). So in all 21+46= 67.
    4. ... Potter61Shahrewar in honour of the first 28 Yazatas from Shahrewar (i.e. 56) and 1 in honour of the remaining 2 (i.e. 2). So in all 56+2 = 58.
    5. ... Brick-maker75Spandarmad 3 in honour of the first 12 Yazatas from Spandarmad (i.e. 36) and 2 in honour of the remaining 18 (i.e. 36). So all 36+36= 72.
    6. ... Ascetic50Hordad 2 in honour of the first 17 Yazatas from Hordad (i.e. 34) and 1 in honour of the remaining 13 (i.e. 13). So in all 34+13 = 47.
    7. ... Goldsmith (or Alchemist)60Amurdad 2 in honour of the first 27 Yazatas from Amurdad (i.e. 54) and 1 in honour of the remaining 3. So in all 54+3 = 57.
    8. ... Mint55Day-pa-Adar 2 in honour of the first 22 Yazatas from Day-pa-Adar (i.e. 44) and 1 in honour of the remaining 8. So in all 44+8= 52.
    9. ... Ironsmith61Adar The same order as in the case of the fourth kind of fire, but beginning with Adar.
    10. ... Armourer61Aban The same order as in the case of the fourth kind of fire, but beginning with Aban.
    11. ... Baker61Khwarshed The same order as in the case of the fourth kind of fire, but beginning with Khwarshed.
    12. ... Brewer, Distiller, or Idol-worshipper61 Mohor [Mah] The same order as in the case of the fourth kind of fire, but beginning with Mohor [Mah].
    13. ... Soldier or Traveller35Tir/Tishtar 2 for the first 2 Yazatas from Tir (i.e. 4) and 1 for the remaining 28. In all 4+28=32.
    14. ... Shepherd33Gosh [Goshorun] (Drvasp) 1 for all the 30 Yazatas beginning from Gosh. So 30 in all.
    15. ... Atmospheric Electricity90Day-pa-Mihr 3 for the first 27 Yazatas, from Day-pa-Mihr (i.e. 81) and 2 for the remaining 3 (i.e. 6). Thus in all 81+6 = 87.
    16. ... Zoroastrian, i.e.,a Dastur ( head-priest), a Mobad (priest), or a lay­man and of friction by flint and pieces of wood40+144=184Mihr 6 for each of the 30 Yazatas beginning from Mihr (i.e. 180) and 1 more in honour of Ahura Mazda. Thus 181 in all.
    Total ..1,128


    What delays the process at times is the collection of the fire of atmospheric electricity, i.e., the fire produced by the burning of a tree, grass or wood due to the fall of lightning. Months before the proposed time of the ceremony, messages are sent to different stations, requesting the Parsees there to be on a look-out to see if a falling lightning has produced a fire, and to take up a portion of the fire if so produced. The ceremony of consecrating the other fires need not be delayed for this fire. It may go on. But, if, by the time all the fires are consecrated, the fire produced by lightning does not come forth, the final unition and consecration of all the fires cannot take place. It must be indefinitely postponed until this fire is produced and consecrated.

    4. The final unition of all the 16 fires.

    As said above, all the sixteen fires are, after the different consecrations of its portions for the number of times stated against their names in the second column of the above table, col­lected and fed in a separate censer. So, in all, there are 16 different censers containing the 16 different fires. The final unition or collection must take place on the first Gatha Gahambar Festival day, i.e., on the first of the five intercalary days at the end of the year. A large censer is prepared for this process. Two Yaozdathragar priests, i.e., priests with Barashnom and Khub, form a paiwand, and, at first, remove, by means of a ladle, the consecrated fire prepared from the fire that burnt a corpse, from its censer to this large censer. Then, the other fires are carried there and united with the first in the consecutive order of their consecration.


    5. The final consecration of the United Fire.

    The censer, containing the fire thus united and formed from the 16 consecrated fires, is then carried to the Yazashna-gah for final consecration. At first, for three consecutive days, two priests recite, with their ritual, three Yasnas and three Vendidads, each on one day, with the Khshnuman of Sraosha, i.e., in honour of the Yazata Sraosha. Then, from Ohrmazd, the 1st day of the next month to Anagran, the 30th of the month, 30 Yasnas and 30 Vendidads are recited, each on one day, in honour of the particular Yazata presiding on the particular day. Then, on the last day fixed for the final consecration and enthronement of the Sacred Fire, another Yasna in honour of Sraosha is recited with its ritual over it. This completes the ceremony of consecrating the Sacred Fire of Atash Bahram, the Fire of the first degree. What remains to be done is to place it, or, as the Parsee phraseology goes, to enthrone it, on its proper place (dâityô-gâtu).

    6. The Consecration of the chamber of the Fire (the Sanctum Sanctorum).

    The Sacred Fire being consecrated, the chamber in the Fire-Temple where it is to be enthroned must also be consecrated. That consecration ceremony lasts for three days. It must be performed before the final day of consecration and enthronement. It consists of the performance there, for three consecutive days, of the Yasna and Vendidad ceremonies in honour of Sraosha.

    7. The final Enthronement.

    On the day fixed, the final consecration-recital of the Yasna being said, the Sacred Fire is removed to the consecrated chamber with all dignity and solemnity. A procession is formed. The procession is headed by the head-priest and other priests who have officiated at the various ceremonies of the consecra­tion. Some bear swords and some Gurz or maces in their hands. The path, which leads from the Yazashna-gah where the final consecration of the Sacred Fire took place to the consecrated chamber where it is to be enthroned, is separated from the [226] adjoining place by pavis to keep it undefiled. Again, the path itself is divided into several pavis, so that the two priests who carry the censer containing the Sacred Fire can remain, at each advance, in a separate pavi. It must be remembered that, during the whole of the consecration processes also, the fire was kept within a separate pavi where it was fed by the consecrating priests. The fire, after being carried thus to its chamber, is placed on a large censer standing on a large slab of stone surrounded by a pavi. Then, it is fed with sandalwood and frankincense, and an Atash Niyayesh i.e., a prayer in praise of fire, is recited. Then, in the front hall of the Temple, a Jashan ceremony is performed, wherein three Afrinagans are generally recited. The first is with the Khshnuman of Sraosha, the second with that of Dahman and the third again with that of Sraosha. Similarly, the Bajs are recited. This finishes the ceremony of enthroning the Sacred Fire.

    The spiritual rule of the Sacred Fire.

    The above ceremony of placing the Sacred Fire in its chamber is spoken of as the ceremony of takht-nashini i.e., enthronement or coronation. The Sacred Fire is metaphorically spoken of as a King, having a spiritual jurisdiction over the district round about. The stone slab or stand, on which its censer stands, is considered and spoken of as its throne (takht). Its chamber is in the form of a dome, giving an idea of the dome of the heavens. It is just under the centre of the dome that the censer stands on the slab. From that centre hangs, high above over the fire, a metallic tray which is spoken of as the crown (taj) of the Sacred Fire, which is looked at as the symbolic representation or emblem of a spiritual ruler. One or two swords and one or two maces are hanging on the inner walls of its chamber. They serve as symbols of the Church militant, and signify, that the faithful should fight against moral evils and vices, just as they would fight against their enemies, and thus make it, in the end, triumphant.


    A national toast of the Parsees, connected with the Sacred Fire of the Atash Bahram, represented as a King.

    The Parsees have some general toasts, which may be called their "national toasts," and which are now and then proposed at most of their dinners. The first is "Yazdân ni Yâd, i.e., "In Honour and to the Glory of the Creator." Another, at times, is "Ashô Farohar ni Yâd," i.e., "In honour of the dear departed holy ones." One of the others is "Atash Beherâm pâdshâh nâ pâe-takht ni salâmati," i.e., "For the safety of the foot of the Throne of the kingly Sacred Fire of the Atash Bahram." In this toast, by the use of the word "throne," the idea of the spiritual rule of the Fire is in­tended to be held. At times, even up to a few years ago, some laymen addressed the priests as pâdshâh, i.e., the king, because they attended to, and fed, the kingly fire. The visible fire of the Church is a symbol of the Invisible Church of God.

    The State and the Church in ancient Itan.

    In ancient Iran, the State and the Church were generally united. In bringing about by the Iranian Renaissance after the Dark Ages of the Parthian rule, brought about the fall of the Achaemenian Empire at the hands of Alexander the Great, one of the ways adopted for the purpose by Ardeshir Babegan was that of the Unity of the Church and the State. His Vazir and Dastur (minister and head-priest) Taosar [Tansar] alludes to this, at some length, in his letter12 to Jasnasfshâh, the King of Tabaristan.13 In Zoroastrianism, the Unity of the [228] Church is represented, as it were, by the Unity of the Fire. Purity and Unity play the important part in the consecration of the great Sacred Fire. At present, though the Zoroastrian Church is separated from the State, it looks to the State — though now a non-Zoroastrian State — for its protection, for its sway. So, in their Afrinagan prayers, they pray, even now, as they did in ancient Iran, for the long life, prosperity and just and happy rule of the king. What Herodotus said of the ancient Iranians, that they, before praying for themselves, prayed for their sovereign and for their community, is true even now.14 Not only in the Afrinagans, but also in the Tandarosti prayer, recited at the end of all the formal prayers, a Parsee prays for his king. In their big dinners also, the "Health of the King" is one of their toasts.

    12. Journal Asiatique, Tome III, March-April 1894.

    13. During the last century, this question was discussed in another way and had even gone to the Court of Law. The Shahanshahi sect of the Parsees at Surat opposed the erection of an Atash Bahram by the Kadmi sect, on the ground that there cannot be two Atash Bahrams in one city. Both parties produced before the Court evidence from religious books, old and new, to support their case. The Court decided that there may be more than one Atash Bahram in one city. The same question was discussed in Bombay at the end of the last century. There existed Atash Bahram of the Shahanshahi sect. Its Dastur objected to the erection of another, saying, that, as there cannot be two kings in one and the same city, there cannot be two Atash Bahram padshahs (kings) in one and the same city. Both sides published treatises. In the end, the second Atash Bahram, known as the Anjuman Atash Bahram, was founded.

    14. "He that sacrifices is not permitted to pray for himself alone; but he is obliged to offer prayers for the prosperity of all the Persians and the king, for he is himself included in the Persians." (Herodotus, Bk. I., 132.)

    Signification of the purifying and consecrating pro­cesses of the Sacred Fire.

    Now, what does a Sacred Fire, purified and consecrated as above, signify to a Parsee? (a) A Parsee has to think for himself: "When this fire on this vase before me, though pure in itself, though the noblest of the creations of God, and though the best symbol of the Deity, had to undergo certain processes of purification, had to draw out, as it were its essence, — nay, its quintessence — of purity, to enable itself to be worthy of occupying the exalted position, how much more necessary, more essential, and more important is it for me — a poor mortal who is liable to commit sins and crimes and who is likely to come into contact with hundreds of evils both physical and moral — to undergo the process of purity and piety, by making my manashni, gavashni, and kunashni (thoughts, words, and deeds) pass, as it were, throught a sieve of piety and purity, virtue and morality, and to separate by that means my humata, hukhta, and hvarshta (good thoughts, [229] good words, and good deeds) from my dushmata, duzukhta, and duzvarshta (bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds), so that I may, in my turn, be enabled to acquire an exalted position in the next world? (b) Again, the fires put together as above are collected from the houses and places of business of men of different grades of society. This reminds a Parsee that, as all these fires from the houses of men of difierent grades have by the process of purification, equally acquired the exalted place in the vase, so, before God, all men — no matter to what grades of society they belong — are equal, provided they pass through the process of purification, i.e., provided they preserve purity of thoughts, purity of words, and purity of deeds, (c) Again, when a Parsee goes before the Sacred Fire, which is kept all day and night burning in the Fire-temple, the officiating priest presents before him the ash of a part of the burning fire. The Parsee applies it to his forehead, just as a Christian applies the consecrated water in his Church, and thinks to himself: 'Dust to dust. The Fire, all brilliant, shining and resplendent, has spread the fragrance of the sweet-smelling sandalwood and frankincense round about, but is at last reduced to dust. So, it is destined for me. After all, I am to be reduced to dust and have to depart from this transient life. Let me do my best to spread, like this fire, before my death, the fragrance of charity and good deeds and lead the light of righteousness and knowledge before others.' In short, the Sacred Fire burning in a Fire-temple serves as a perpetual monitor to a Parsee standing before it, asking him to preserve piety, purity, humility, and brotherhood."15

    15. Vide my Religious System of the Parsis, 2nd edition of 1903, pp. 27-28. Vide for this paper The Report of the World's Parliament of Religions, Vol. II, p, 908. Vide the chapter on "Religion," contri­buted by me, in Mr. Dosabhoy Framjeo'e History of the Parsees, Vol. II, p. 214.

    The ceremony of removing the ash of the Sacred Fire for the ritual of Purification.

    While speaking of the purificatory ceremonies, we have said that the sacred ash of the Sacred Fire of the Atash Beheram is required to be mixed with the consecrated urine. We will here describe the ceremony with which this ash is removed from the vase of the fire:— Two priests with Barashnom, who have performed the Khub ceremony, go before the Sacred Fire in the Ushahin gah, i.e., after midnight. They, at first, make pav16 i.e., religiously pure, a metallic tray, two metallic ladles and a piece of linen. Holding a paiwand between them, they recite the Baj with the Khshnuman of Ahura Mazda. Reciting it upto "vidhvao mraotu," they utter the word "ashem" (i.e., purity) and repeat it in Baj, i.e., in a. suppressed tone. One of the priests then puts on gloves, and by means of the ladles, removes from the vase of the Sacred Fire as much of the ash as he requires, and places it in the metallic tray. Then, removing the gloves, both wash their hands and make them pav with pure water. They let the hands dry and then pass the ash through the linen as through a sieve. The ash so collected is then put in a vessel previously made pav. The vessel is then tied up with three turns of twisted yarn with two final knots and kept apart. Having done this, the priests go out of the chamber of the Sacred Fire and finish the Baj. The ash is then supplied as required to the different Fire-temples of the lower grade under the jurisdiction of the great Temple for purificatory ceremonies.17

    16. The process of making a thing pâv, or religiously pure, consists in reciting Khshnaôthra Ahurahê Mazdâo and one Ashem Vohu and then washing it with pure water. This process is repeated three times.

    17. Vide above, pp. 96 and 114.

    The Bui ceremony of feeding the Sac­red Fire. Meaning of the word "bui."

    We will here describe the Bui ceremony, i.e., the cere­mony of keeping the fire always burning, by feeding it with fragrant wood. The word "bui" is the Persian form of the Avestan word "baodha." It is "bui" in Pahlavi. Ordinarily, the word means "odour" or "smell." In the Parsee ceremonial phraseology, it means perfume, [231] or good odour. Fire plays a prominent part in all Zoroastrian rituals. No ritual can be complete without the presence of fire. So sandalwood, frankincense, and such other articles of fuel that emit good odour on burning are necessary requisites in all ceremonies. In the temples, where the Sacred Fire is kept perpetually burning, the feeding of the fire is an important ceremony. It is called "bûi dâdan'' in Persian, and "bui devi" (i.e. to give the perfume) in Gujarati.

    The ceremony varying for the three grades of the sacred fires.

    The ceremony varies a little according to the different grades of the Fire-temples: As said above, there are three grades of Fire-temples:— (1) the Atash Bahram (in Pahlavi, Verehrâm or Vahrâm; Avesta Verethragna), i.e., the fire of Victory (victory over evil influences or powers); (2) the Atash Adaran, i.e., the fire of fires; (3) the Atash Dad-gah, i.e., the fire (ceremoniously established) in a proper place. Dad-gah is the Dâitya-gâtû of the Vendidad (Chapter VIII). In the first two grades of fire temples, it is the priest alone who can go before the fire and feed it. In the case of the third grade of temples, in the absence of a priest, even a layman can feed it. In the case of the Atash Bahram, the fire can be fed only by a priest who has become a Martab and who is observing all the ceremonies required to be observed by one with a Barashnom. In the case of the Atash Adaran, it can be fed by any priest, even when he is not observing the Barashnom. In the case of the Atash Bahram, the officiating priest must also have performed the ceremony of Khub before going to the sacred fire to feed it. The Khub ceremony consists of the performance of the Yasna ceremony. Having once performed that ceremony, its quali­fying influence lasts for four days. After the fourth day, it must be performed again. A bath during the interval, or a wet dream, which necessitates a bath among the Parsees, or the partaking of food without the regular recital of the Baj, i.e., prayer for grace, or the coming into contact with a non-Zoroastrian, [232] breaks the influence of the Khub, which, in such cases, must be performed again.

    The five periods for the performance of the ceremony.

    The Bui ceremony is performed five times every day. It is performed at the commencement of each of the five Gahs or periods of the day which correspond, to a certain extent, with the canonical hours of the Christians.18 These periods are the following:— (1) Hawan. It begins from early morning when the stars begin to cease to appear, and lasts upto 12 o'clock when the sun comes overhead. Literally, it means the time when the ceremony of pounding the Haoma is performed. (2) Rapithwin. It runs from 12 o'clock noon to 3 p. m. Literally, it means the pith (pithwa) or the middle part of the day (ayarê) (3) Uzerin. It runs from 3 p.m. to the time when the stars begin to appear. Literally, it means the time of the advancement of the sun. (4) Aiwisruthrem. It runs from nightfall to midnight. (5) Ushahin. It runs from midnight to dawn when the stars begin to cease to appear.

    18. The five gahs seem to correspond to Matin, Prime, Sext, Nones, and Compline. In the Atash-Bahram at Naosari certain priestly families had the right of the Bui ceremony for a certain number of days. This re­minds us of a similar practice in the Assyrian and Babylonian temples.

    Difference in the way of feeding the fire, according to its grades.

    The ceremony of Bui in the case of these three grades of Fire temples varies. (a) In the case of the second and third grades of Fire-temples, (the Atash Adaran and the Atash Dadgah), the fire can be fed with one piece of sandal­wood, but in the case of the Atash Bahram, the fire must be fed with a Mâchi19 of sandalwood. In this case, six pieces of sandalwood are placed on the Sacred Fire. The Atash Bahram is spoken of, as said above, as Atash Bahram Padshah, i.e., the king.20 Being the highest Grade of Sacred Fire, it is compared [233] to a king. So the sandalwood, with which the Sacred Fire is fed, is placed on it in the form of a Machi or throne. The six pieces are arranged on the fire in pairs of two pieces, placed one over the other, (b) The next point, in which the ceremony of the Bui varies in the case of these different grades of Fire temples, is this: In the case of the second and third, the Atash Niyayesh (the prayer in honour of the angel presiding over fire) is recited only once, but in the case of the Atash Bahram it is recited several times. In the first period of the day (the Hawan), it is recited eleven times; in the second (the Rapithwin), nine times; in the third, seven; in the fourth, seven; in the fifth, six times, (c) Again, in the case of the second and third grades of the Sacred Fire, the Bui ceremony is very simple. The priest performs the Kusti-padyab (i.e., performs ablutions and unties and puts on the Kusti again with the recital of a prayer), and then goes into the sacred chamber, places one or more pieces of sandalwood over the fire and recites the Atash Niyayesh, but in the case of Atash Bahram, the ritual is a little long in other respects. I will describe it here:&mdash

    19. Mâchi comes from Sanskrit manch, meaning a throne, a seat of honour.

    20. Vide my contribution in the Zend Avesta of Darmesteter I., Introduction LXI-II.

    The Bui cere­mony in an Atash Bahram.

    A priest who has performed the Khub ceremony, performs the Kusti-padyab at the commencement of each new Gah, i.e., the period of the day, as described above, and then recites his Farziyat, i.e., the necessary prayers, which are the Srosh-baj, the Gah according to the time of the day, and the Khwarshed and Mihr Niyayeshes during the day periods, i.e., the abovenamed first three gahs. During the night-periods which form the last two gahs, the Khwarshed and Mihr Niyayeshes are replaced by Srosh Yasht (Yasna 57) and Srosh Hadokht. He then goes into the sacred chamber, puts on white gloves, places some frankincense over the Sacred Fire, and then the Mâchi, i.e., the six pieces of sandalwood as said above. If [234] sandalwood is not obtainable, six pieces of any other kind of clean good wood will do. The six pieces are placed over the fire from three different positions, thus:

    At first, the priest, standing before the censer, faces the east and places two pieces (AA and BB in the above figure) of san­dalwood over the fire at a short distance from each other. Then he turns to the south and places two more pieoes (CC and DD) over the first two. Then he turns towards the west and places two more pieces EE and FF over the four.21 He then washes with pure water22 the stone-slab on which the censer of the [235] Sacred Fire stands.23 This ceremony of washing the pedestal or the stone-slab (Khân) on which the Sacred Fire stands, is alluded to in the 9th chapter of the Yasna.24 The priest then places on the fire a little sandalwood and frankincense three times, speaking the words Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta, i.e., good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Then he goes round the censer with a metallic ladle in his hand, and, standing in eight25 different positions (viz., the four sides and the four corners), and then going back to his original position on the west of the censer and facing the east, recites, in these nine positions, different words of a short formula of prayer. This ceremonial of going round the censer is spoken of as 'chak farvun,' i.e., going round the circle (Pers. chak, i.e., "one side of four; an eighth part of a thing").

    21. In all the ceremonies of the Parsees, the north side is, as a rule, generally avoided. Vide above, p. 56.

    22. For these purification ceremonies, the water itself is, as it were, purified. Two water-pots, full to the brim with well water, are taken into the chamber. The water from the one is poured into the other, which itself is full to the brim until the water overflows, and while thus over­flowing cleans and purifies also the sides of the vessel. This is done three times with the recital of the words Khshnaothra Ahurahê Mazdao and of the Ashem-Vohu prayer. The water of the other pot is similarly purified. Then the water-pots with the water in them are said to be made pav, i.e., pure or clean with water (pa-âv = Persian, ba-âb).

    23. The stone-slab is ordinarily spoken of by the priests as Khuân or Khân. Prof. Darmesteter, by some mistake (Le Zend Avesta I. Intro­duction LXX) calls the metallic tray, standing on a metallic stool on the left side of the censer, the Khân, but in the ordinary parlance of the priesthood, that tray is called Khânchê while the stone-slab is called Khân.

    24. Yasna, Ha 9:1.

    25. In the performance of the Afrinagan ceremony also, the Âtravakhshi, i.e., the person sitting before the fire, at the recital of the Ahunwar or Yatha Ahu Vairyo and Ashem Vohu, points with his ladle in the tray, the eight different directions. From an anthropological point of view, the custom has some similarity, with the sides and corners pointed by the Hindu Svastika and the pre-Christian Cross.

    A chart of the different positions.

    The following chart points out the different positions in which the priest stands whilst reciting the various parts of the prayer-formula. The numbers [236] point out the consecutive order in which he stands at the different positions before the censer on the altar:

    I give here an illustration of the performance of the Bui-ritual in the sanctum sanctorum of the Fire-temple.26

    26. The priests of the Shahanshahi sect put on white turbans, those of the Kadmi sect put on the fentâ, which is a hat of an Irani type. In this illustration it in a Kadmi priest who officiates.

    The following table gives the different words of the text, recited in the different positions before the censer, the refer­ences to the Avesta text for the words, and their meanings

    Table of the formula recited.

    Directions.Words of the Avesta Text recited.Reference to the Texts. Translation of the words.
    1. West...Âthwâ âthro gârayêmi.. The first two words from Y51:9.I praise (Thee, O God) through thy fire.
    2. North-East...Vanghéush mananghô zaôthrâbyô yazamaîdê. Y68:3.We praise through the offerings of good thoughts.
    3. South-East...Âthwâ âthro gârayêmi.. Same as No. 1.Same as No. 1.
    4. East...Vanghéush ukhdhahâ zaôthrâbyô yazamaîdê.. Y68:3.We praise through the offerings of good words.
    5. South-West...Âthwâ âthro gârayêmi.. Same as No. 1.Same as No. 1.
    6. North-West...Vanghéush shyaôthnahê zaôthrâbyô yazamaîdê. Y68:3.We praise through the offerings of good actions.
    7. North...Sukâî manangha .. Y68:4.For the enlightenment of (our) thoughts.
    8. South...Sukâî vachangha.. Ibid ..For the enlightenment of (our) words.
    9. Coming back to the original place on the West of the censer and facing East...Sukâî shyaôthna .. Ibid. ..For the enlightenment of (our) deeds.

    The meaning of the above formula on the whole is as fol­lows:— "O God! We praise Thee, through Thy fire. We praise Thee, by the offerings of good thoughts. We praise Thee through Thy fire. We praise Thee by the offerings of good words. We praise Thee through Thy fire. We praise Thee by the offerings of good deeds. (We do all this) for the enlighten­ment of our thoughts, for the enlightenment of our words, and for the enlightenment of our deeds." That is to say, the wor­shipper standing before the sacred fire, taking it as the symbol of God's refulgence and purity, and placing over the fire sandal­wood and frankincense as visible offerings, offers the real, though invisible offerings of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and thereby hopes and prays for the further enlightenment of his thoughts, words, and deeds.

    Having recited the above short but pithy formula of prayer the priest places again over the fire a little sandalwood and frankincense, and then recites, as said above, the Atash Niyayesh27 several times, according to the Gah or period of the day. While reciting the first Niyayesh for the first time, the priest goes on placing bits of sandalwood and frankincense (aêsma bûi) at the intervals of a few words.

    27. S. B. E. XXIII., p. 357. Le Zend Avesta, par Darmesteter, II., p. 705.

    The ringing of the bell.

    During the recital of the first Niyayesh, and during the recital of the first Pazand portion of it, whilst uttering the words "dushmata," "duzhukhta," "duzvarshta," i.e., evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds, he rings a bell thrice; some ring the bell thrice, whilst uttering each word, i.e., in all give nine strokes of the bell. This is, as it were, to emphasise that portion of the prayer, wherein the worshipper expresses a desire to shun bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds. At the end of the first recital of the principal portion of the Atash Niyayesh, the priest draws by means of two ladles two circles in the ash in the censer at its ridge, and at the similar end of the second recital [239] he obliterates the circles again. While reciting the Niyayesh during the first and the fifth Gah or period of the day (the Hawan and the Ushahin), the priest stands on the West of the censer with his face towards the East, and during the other periods vice versa.

    (B) Consecration of the Sacred Fire of the second grade, the Atash Adaran.

    The later Persian books say, that in a town or village where ten Zoroastrian families reside, the presence of a Fire-temple of the second grade, the Atash Adaran, is necessary. The process of collecting, purifying and consecrating the fires for this sacred Fire of the second grade is not very long. Four principal kinds of fire are required to constitute this fire. They are: Fire from the houses of (a) the Athornans, i.e., the priestly class, (b) the Rathaêshtârân, i.e., the military class, (c) the Vâstryosân, i.e., the agricultural class, (d) the Hutokhshân, i.e., the artizans, tradesmen, and manufacturers. We will speak of the consecration of the Sacred Fire of the second degree under the following heads: 1. Collection of the fires. 2. Purifying the fires. 3. Consecrating the fires. 4. The final consecration of the united fire. 5. The final enthronement.

    1. Collection of the fires from the houses of different classes.

    (a) The first requisite fire is that from the houses of the Athornans, i.e., of the men of the priestly class. For this purpose, fires from the houses of the following persons are generally collected and united:— (1) The Dastur, or the head-priest of the town. (2) An ordinary priest. (3) The leading or the head layman of the town. (4) The donor. In case the Fire-temple is founded by a private individual with a charitable or religious motive, the fire of his house is generally taken, if convenient. If he lives in a town different from that where he founds the Fire-temple, the fire of his house need not neces­sarily be had. The fires from the houses of these different persons are collected together.


    (b) For the preparation of the fire of the Rathaeshtars, i.e., the military or the governing class, fires from the houses of the following grades of persons are collected:— 1. Fire of the house of the Governor, or the ruling authority of the place. For example, if a Fire-temple is sought to be founded in Bombay, the fire from the cook-room of the Governor's house may be had. If it is to be founded in a mofussil town, that from the house of the Collector or the Assistant Collector or the Deputy Collector, or any other officer who is the head ruling authority of the place may be had. 2. Fire of the house of a military officer or person residing in the town or in the neighbourhood may be had. If there are no houses of military officers or soldiers near at hand, the fire from the house of a Police Officer may be had. 3. Fire from the house of the leading judicial authority. For example, if it is in Bombay that a Fire-temple is being founded, the fire from the house of the Chief Justice or of any one of the Judges of the High Court may be had. In the mofussil, it may be had from the house of any judge or magistrate or other judicial officer. All these fires, are then mingled together to form a fire of the military or the ruling class.

    (c) The fire of the house of an agriculturist may be had from the house of any tiller of the soil in the locality. If there is a Parsee cultivator at hand, the fire from his house may be had, and then from that of a Hindu cultivator. A fire from the house of an ordinary gardener may be had. Then all these fires are mingled together to form one fire of the agricultural class. The fire of the artizan class is prepared out of the fires of different tradesmen and workmen. They are generally fetched from the places of business of artizans and others, such as the goldsmiths, silversmiths, ironsmiths, tinsmiths, copper­ smiths, dyers, distillers, bakers, potters, tillers, brick-makers, chunam-makers, shepherds, caravanbashis, sentinels, etc The fires from their houses or places of business are all united to form one fire of the artizan class.

    2. Purification of the fires.

    The process of purification is well nigh the same as that des­cribed above in the case of the different fires that were united to form the Sacred Fire of the first Grade. A ladle with holes containing powdered fuel, etc., is held over the fire at some dis­tance from the flame. The process differs in only one respect, viz., that in this case the process is repeated thrice only, while in the case of the Sacred Fire of the first Degree the number of repetitions varied from 33 to 91 times.

    3. Consecration of the four fires.

    Each of the above-said four united fires, after being purified as above, is consecrated separately. Each of the four fires is placed in a separate vase and two priests take charge of each fire, i.e., in all, eight priests are required to consecrate them. A lesser number can do, but in that case it would take a larger number of days. On the first day, each of the four pairs of priests performs over the fires, in the morning, the Yasna ceremony and, after midnight, the Vendidad with the Khshnuman of Srosh. On the second day, the same ceremonies are performed again, but with the Khshnuman of Ahura Mazda. During these recitals the four fires are placed before the officiating priests.

    4. The final consecration of the Sacred Fire.

    Then, on the third day, the four fires are all united into one. The vase or censer containing the first, i.e., the fire of the Athornan or priestly class, receives in itself the fire of the next three classes. All the priests who officiate at the consecration unite themselves by a paiwand and then, reciting the Yatha Ahu Vairyo [Ahunwar] formula, combine the fires together in the first censer. Having done so, they recite the nemashkâr [Namaskar]28 of Atash or homage to the Sacred Fire three times, finishing it with the Ahmai-raeshcha prayer, etc. It runs as follows: "Homage to thee, O Fire of wise Ahura Mazda, the benefit-giving great Yazata."

    28. Vide Spiegel, translated by Bleeck, Khordeh Avesta, pp. 3-14.

    Having thus combined the fires and having thus paid an homage to the united Fire, two priests — generally the two priests who had at first consecrated separately the fires of the priestly class — perform over it the Yasna ceremony in the morning and the Vendidad at midnight with the Khshnuman of Srosh. Then, on the morning of the fourth day, a Yasna with the Khshnuman of Dadar Ahura Mazda is recited over the united Fire. This finishes the preparation and the con­secration of the Sacred Fire of Atash Adaran.

    5. The enthronement of the Sacred Fire.

    The Sacred Fire being thus prepared and consecrated, there now remains the final ceremony of enthroning it. It is well-nigh the same as that for the Sacred Fire of the First Grade. The assembled priests and others form a procession and formally carry the Sacred Fire to the chamber which itself has been cleaned, purified, and consecrated, as in the case of the Atash-Bahram. There, it is enthroned on a large metallic censer which stands upon a raised stone-platform or slab. A priest then feeds this Sacred Fire reciting the Atash Niyayesh. All others also recite this Niyayesh. Then, they assemble in the outer hall of the Temple and perform the Jashan ceremony. In this, either the three Afrinagans referred to in the case of the Jashan of the Atash-Bahram or the following Afrinagans are recited:— 1. Ardwahisht Ameshaspand. 2. Ahura Mazda. 3. Spandarmad. 4. Arda Fravash. 5. Dahman, 6. Srosh. Similarly, the Baj ceremony is performed at the same time.

    (C) Consecration of the Sacred Fire of the Third Grade: The Atash Dadgah.

    The ritual of the consecration of this fire is very simple. It is the ordinary fire of the household that is consecrated. So there is no special process of collection for it. Again, there is no special purification. The principal function is the consecration of the Temple where it is to be deposited. The fire, that is [243] used in the consecration of the Temple itself while performing the Yasna and the Vendidad ceremony, forms the Sacred Fire of the Atash Dadgah. The following is the process of con­secrating the Temple building:— The building intended or built for the temple is cleaned and washed. Some later writings say, that all Temple buildings may, at first, be washed and purified thrice with gomez or cow's urine, but the practice is not generally resorted to now. It may then be purified by being washed thrice with water. After this purification and cleaning, commences the consecration ceremony. It lasts for four days. During the first three days, in the morning, a Yasna ceremony with the Khshnuman of Srosh, and after midnight, a Vendidad with the same Khshnuman are recited. On the morning of the fourth day, a Yasna with the Khshnu­man of Arda Frawash is recited. Then finally, the Jashan ceremony is performed. In this Jashan ceremony, five Afrina­gans are recited with the Khshnuman of:— 1. Ardwahisht. 2. Ahura Mazda. 3. Spandarmad (Spanta Armaiti\ 4. Ardafrawash. 5. Dahman. 6. Srosh. Similarly, six Bajs are recited.29

    29. At times, the numbers of Afrinagans and Bajs vary. For a list of the Fire-temples of all grades vide Khân Bahâdur Bomanji Byramji Patel's contribution in the Bombay Gazetteer, Vol. IX, Part II. Vide Zoroastrian Calendar of 1476 Yazdazardi (1906-07), by Mr. Manoherji Jagosh.




    There are three ceremonies in connection with the consecration of a Tower. They are the following:— I. Kodâri mârvi (lit., to strike the first spade),1 i.e., the ceremony for digging the ground to lay the foundation. II. The Tânâ cere­mony, or the ceremony of laying the foundation. III. The Consecration ceremony proper.

    1. The old Egyptian ritual for laying the foundation-stone of a temple, referred to below, also speaks of the use of the spade.

    1. The preliminary ceremony of digging the ground.

    The first ceremony is that of digging the ground. It is performed a few days before the formal laying of the foundation. In the centre of the spot chosen for a Tower, a Barashnomwala priest encloses a certain place with a "pavi"2 and thereon performs, at first, the Khub ceremony with the five springs of the Barsom (pânch tâi ni khûb). Then he recites the "Baj" in honour (1) of Sraosha, the guardian angel guiding the souls of the deceased, (2) of Ahura Mazda, (3) of Spenta Armaiti, the Archangel presiding over ground, a portion of which is now being enclosed for the construction of the Tower, (4) of "Ardafrawash," i.e., all the departed souls, and (5) of "Haft Ameshaspands," i.e., the seven Archangels. Having recited these prayers, the priest holds a spade in his hand and recites the Srosh Baj upto Ashahe. He then digs with his own hand a part of the ground required for the Tower. While digging, he recites the Yatha Ahu Vairyo [Ahunwar] prayer 21 times.

    2. "Pâvi" [pavi] (from "pâv," i.e., sacred) is a kind of trench a few inches deep in the ground. It is intended to separate a portion of a place from the adjoining ground in order to perform a sacred ceremony therein. No outsider is allowed to enter within this enclosed place while the ceremony is being performed. The Yasna, Baj, and Vendidad cere­monies are performed only within such enclosed spaces. In Fire-Temples, the sacred fire burns on a censer within such an enclosed space.

    II. The Tânâ or the ceremony for laying the foundation.

    A few days after, when the whole of the required plot of ground is excavated by the labourers, two priests perform in the morning the "Tânâ" ceremony for laying the foundation of the Tower. The ceremony is so-called from the fact of "tânâ" or a very fine thread being used to mark out the circumference of the Tower and its different parts for the laying of the founda­tion. One hundred and one3 fine threads are woven into one strong thread or string. The thread so prepared should be as long as would suffice to go round the circumference and the inner parts three times.4 Some time before its use, this thread is made "pâv," i.e., washed, purified, and dried. To hold this thread, the priests have to fix in the ground 301 nails of different sizes and weights. The following are the various numbers and weights:— (a) One central nail (shown in the plan by the letter A) of one maund without any holes. (b) Four side nails5 (i.e., for South-East, South-West, North-West, and North-East sides) (B, E, D and C,), each of half a maund. Each of these four nails is to have three holes, one being straight and the other two crosswise, (c) Thirty-six nails (16 in the outer circle, each shown in the plan by the letter F, and twenty in the inner circle, each shown in the plan by the letter G,) weighing altogether about one maund. (d) Two hundred and fifty-six nails, altogether weighing one maund, 32 on each of the eight rows marked HH in the plan, (e) Four nails of the same size as the above 256 to be fixed at the places marked J J. These five sets of nails give the total of 301.

    3. One hundred and one is a sacred number, because, according to the Parsee books, the Almighty God has one hundred and one names which signify all his virtues. These one hundred and one names are recited in several ceremonies, e.g., in preparing the sacred "Zaothra" or consecrated water for the Haoma ceremony.

    4. The number three is a sacred number, being symbolic of Humata, Hukhta, and Hvarshta, i.e., good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, the three precepts on which the moral structure of the Zoroastrian religion rests.

    5. These nails correspond to the pegs in the Egyptian ritual. For the four nails, cf. "the four supports of heaven" (vide below, pp. 249-50).

    On the day of the Tânâ ceremony, in the morning, two Barashnumwala priests get down into the excavation that has been dug for the foundation. Having performed the padyab, they perform the Khub ceremony with the five-twigs of the Barsom. They then put on their full sacerdotal dress (Jâmâ pichhori) and hold the paiwand between them. They then recite the Srosh Baj upto the word Ashahê, and begin to fix the nails in the ground. They recite one Ahunwar or Yathâ-ahû-vaîryô, while striking each nail. The central large nail A is struck first. The greater part of it is left above the ground. Then the nails on the South-East, South-West, North-West and North-East are struck. Then the above 36 nails are struck in the order marked in the plan beginning at G on the S.-E. which is marked as G 1. The order is G 1, F 2, G 3, F 4, G 5, F 6, and so on in the first quarter. Then G 10, F 11, and so on in the next quarter. Thus, the last or the 36th nail is at G 36 in the fourth quarter. Then the 256 nails are struck in eight different lines shown in the plan. The first 32 must be struck in the line between H and G 1. The next 32 on the similar row on the opposite side H-G 36. The third 32 on the third similar row H-G 10 and then the fourth 32 on the opposite row, and so on, till all the 256 are struck in the 8 rows at 32 per row. Then the last four are struck at the 4 points marked J. During the whole of the process of nailing, the priests recite Yathâ-ahû-vaîryôs.

    After finishing the nailing, the priests commence passing the tânâ or the thread through the nails. They begin with the nail on the South-East quarter, B, one of the four large nails with three holes. The thread is passed through the lowest hole, and the end is fastened with it with a double knot which is put over. it with the recital of two Ahunwars. The long thread is then carried from nail to nail in a metallic tray. One of the two priests carries the tray and the other passes the thread from nail to nail, always moving to the right, i.e., from Southeast to the South, then to the Southwest, then to the West, and so on. Beginning with the nail at B, he takes the thread to G 1, then to F 2, then to G 3, then to F 4; and so on.


    Finishing the first quarter of the outer circle, i.e., passing the thread round the first 9 nails of the outer circle, he passes the thread through the lowest hole of E, the second of the four large nails with three holes. It is then passed round the 9 nails of the second quarter of the circle, then through the lowest hole of D; then round the 9 nails of the third quarter of the circle; then through C; then round the 9 nails of last quarter of the circle. The nails in each quarter are fixed alternately, one at the side towards the inner well of the proposed Tower and the other at ,the furthest outer circle which is to form the foundation of the well of the round tower.

    The above process finishes one round. The thread must be taken round for the second time in the same manner as in the first round, but with this difference, that in the case of the large-holed nails B, E, D, and C, it is to be now passed through the second or the middle hole. Then the thread is to be taken round for the third time. The process is the same, but differs in two points. Firstly, the thread is now to be pierced through the topmost hole of the four big-holed nails; and secondly, in the third round, the thread is also to be taken round each of the 32 nails which make each of the 8 rows. Going in one direction in the line of the 32 nails, in the first quarter of the circle, the thread is passed round one of the nails J. It is then passed round each of the 32 nails of the opposite row. Thus, in the process of the third round, all the double rows, each of 32 nails, are passed through in each of the four quarters of the circle. The thread is then passed round the biggest central nail which was struck in the centre of the plot and which pointed the position of the central well, known as the bhandâr. The whole of the remaining part of the thread is put round this central big nail. The two priests now finish the Srosh Baj, with the recital of the first part of which they had commenced the ceremony. This finishes the whole of the Tânâ ceremony.


    The place marked A in the plan forms the centre of the inner well of the circle where the· bones gather after flesh is [248] devoured. The outer circle next to, or out of, A marks the place of the first set of pâvis, on which, when the tower is finished, bodies of children are placed. The next outer circle marks the middle circle of the tower when completed, on the pâvis of which the bodies of females are placed. The third or the outermost circle marks the circle of the pâvis on which bodies of males are placed.

    The Assembly.

    Thousand of Parsee visitors, men, women, and children, gather to witness the ceremony. On the occasion of the Tânâ ceremony of the Tower at Deolâli, about 100 miles from Bombay, which took place a few years ago, six special trains from Bombay took devout Parsees there. It is said that about more than 5,000 people collected there to witness the ceremony. The visitors were seated in a covered mandap round the excavations dug for the foundation of the Tower. Of course, all are not expected to witness the ceremony. Hardly a thousand can see it actually performed. But the other thousands go there with the devout object of participating in the work. On the close of the ceremony, the remainder, who have not been able to see the whole ceremony, go to the place and see the nails and the thread as spread. there. All the visitors throw into the excavation, gold, silver and copper coins and even currency notes as they can afford. Some more devout even throw their rings. That is considered to be their contribution to the pious work of building a Tower. It is announced, that at the above· said Tower ceremony at Deolâli, they collected in this excavated ground a sum of a little more than Rs. 2,000. The head-priest of the district, in whose ecclesiastical jurisdic­tion the town lies, is believed to have the privilege of having the sum thus collected at these Towers of Silence ceremonies, but he generally gives it away to the subscription fund for the maintenance of the Tower, etc. It is believed, by many people, that it is meritorious to see the ceremonies of the consecration of at least seven Towers during one's life-time. Hence such large gatherings.

    For two or three weeks after the ceremony, the excavations with the nails or pegs and threads are left as they are, so that people, who had no opportunity to go and see it on the day of the ceremony, may go and see it at their convenience. Hundreds generally go there and throw their humble mite in the excavated foundations. The place assumes a festive look for several days. Booths are put up by tradesmen for the sake of refreshments, etc. When the influx of people diminishes, the foundation work proceeds over the whole thing as it is. The nails and the thread remain underground and the foundation work proceeds over it.

    The signification of the Tânâ ceremony.

    Now what is the signification of this Tânâ ceremony? The Avesta and old Pahlavi books say nothing of it. The signification Seems to be this: As it is enjoined in the Vendidad that the ground must not be polluted with the corpses of dead bodies but must be exposed, this Tânâ ceremony seems to signify that the proposed Tower is expected to pollute the ground, only to the extent of its excavations. The thread all along limits, as it were, the extent of pollution. The pollution, if any, is 'Within the four corners of the walls of the Tower. It does not extend even underneath. The position of the nails and the threads points out, as said above, the position of the different parts of the Tower when completed. We see from the description of the Tower, that it has four underground drains, through which the rain-water, etc., falling over the bodies in the Tower passes into the ground. The area of those under­ground drains which are likely to carry a little polluted water are also, as it were, limited by the four double rows, each of 32 nails, and their thread. Again, the whole process of nailing begins with the central big nail and the whole process of the spreading of the thread ends at that central big nail. This seems to point to the idea of unity in the Beginning and unity in the End. We all come from One, from the One. We all go to that One. The whole creation is, as it were, united in its [250] birth. It is united in its end. There is One in All. There is All in One.

    A somewhat similar foundation ceremony of the Egyptians.

    The Tânâ ceremony of the Parsees reminds one of a. some­what similar foundation-ceremony of the ancient Egyptian temples; The well-known astronomer Norman Lockyer says:- "We learn from the works of Chabas, Brugsch, Dümichen, and others, that the foundation of an Egyptian temple was associated with a series of ceremonies which are repeatedly described with a minuteness, which, as Nissen has pointed out, is painfully wanting in the case of Greece and Rome. Amongst these ceremonies, one especially refers to the fixing of the temple-axis; it is called, technically, 'the stretching of the cord.' .... Another part of the ceremony consisted in the king proceeding to the site where the temple was to be built, accompanied mythically by the goddess Sesheta, who is styled 'the mistress of the laying of the foundation-stone.' Each was armed with a stake. The two stakes were connected by a cord. Next the cord was aligned towards the sun or star as the case might be; when the align­ment was perfect, the two stakes were driven into the ground by means of a wooden mallet …. One boundary wall .... was built along the line marked out by this stretched cord."6

    6. The Dawn of Astronomy by Norman Lockyer, (1894), p. 173.

    The old Egyptian word for laying the foundation-stone was Put-ser, wherein put means 'to stretch,' ser means, ‘cord,' “ so that part of the ceremonial which consisted in stretching a cord in the direction of a. star was considered of so great an importance, that it gave its name to the whole ceremonial."7 Similarly in the Parsee ceremony, the tânâ or the thread used in the ceremony has· given its name to the whole ceremony. One Egyptian inscription says: "The Kherheb read the sacred text during the stretching of the [251] measuring-cord and the laying of the foundation-stone On the piece of ground selected for the temple ...... On account of the stretching of the measuring-cord, the Egyptian engineers were called by the Greeks, whose art Democritus boasts of having acquired."8 Another inscription says: "The hammer in my hand was of gold, as I struck the peg with it ...... Thy hand held the spade during the fixing of its (the temple's) four corners with accuracy by the four supports of heaven" In one picture, the king and the goddess are represented with clubs in their hands, to hammer the pegs.

    7. Ibid, p. 175.

    8. Ibid.

    3. The consecration proper of the Tower.

    On the Tower being completed, a particular day is fixed for its consecration. It is generally consecrated in the dry season, so that the ceremony, which is mostly to be performed in the open air with a temporary covering, may not be interrupted by the rains. It lasts for four days. The Tower is surrounded by a pâvi. In the central well of the Tower, called the "Bhandâr," two priests perform for three consecutive days the Yasna ceremonies during the day in the "Hawan Gah," and Vendidad cere­monies at night in the "Ushahin Gah." These ceremonies are in honour of the angel Sraosha, who is protecting the souls of the dead for three days and nights after death. On the morning of the fourth day, the opening day of the Tower, a Yasna ceremony is performed in honour of Ahura Mazda. Then the Baj and Afrinagan ceremonies are performed in honour of Ahura Mazda, of Ardafarosh, i.e., the departed souls, of Spandarmad, i.e., the Yazata presiding over mother-earth, a portion of which is now occupied for laying the dead upon, and of Sraosha. In the Afrinagan ceremony, known as the Jashan9 ceremony, which is performed in the presence of a large number of the community assembled to witness it, the name of the donor at whose expense the Tower is built is mentioned and the blessings of God invoked upon him. If [252] the Tower is constructed by the donor in honour, or to commemorate the memory, of a deceased relative, the name of that relative is publicly mentioned. When the ceremony is over, the persons assembled go into the Tower to see it and throw into the central well, gold, silver, or copper coins as their mite in the expenses of the construction of the Tower. Some throw even their rings and ornaments. These go to make up the sum necessary for building the Tower, if it is built at the expense of the Anjuman or the whole community. If it is built at the expense of a generous donor, the amount thus col­lected goes to the head priest of the district in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction the Tower lies. At times, he gives it for the use of some charitable funds of the town.10 I give here a plan of the Tower itself.

    9. "Jashan" is the contraction of "Yazashna."

    10. For a list of the Parsee Towers of Silence, vide Bombay Gaztteer Vol. IX, Part II: Khan Bahadur Bomanji Byramji Patel's contribution. Vide "Zoroastrian Calendar of the Yazdazardi Year 1276 (1906-7)," by Mr. Muncherji Jagosh.




    Consecration of gaomez. Signification of the word.

    A minor form of consecration is that for the Âlât or the requisites used in some religious services. One of such thing is gaomez or cow's urine. Among the ancient Iranians, water, urine, and sand or a particular kind of earth or clay were considered to be the best means of purification. Water was the best puri­fier, but before washing the body with it, the application of cow's urine was considered necessary. Gaomaêza is the Avesta word for it. It comes from gao, a cow and miz. Sanskrit mih, Latin ming-ere, to sprinkle. When the urine is consecrated by religious ceremonies, it is, in religious parlance, spoken of as Nirang or Nirang-din (i.e., the nirang prepared by religious ceremonies). It is so called, because a nirang, i.e., a religious incantation is recited on its application.

    Urine has been used by several nations from very old times as a purificative. Its original use as a purificative has led to the notion of its being considered as a charm against evil spirits. Prof. Eugen Wilhelm says on the subject of its use:- “That the practice of using cow's urine as a preservative against the influences of evil spirits is very old indeed, and likely to date from the most ancient times, we may conclude from the fact, that traces of this same custom. existing with our Aryan brethren in the East in India and Erân may be found some­times even today in the West, in the Bretagne, that province of France which holds its name from the Celtic Britons who sought refuge there."l Dr. Wilhelm gives references from Roman and Hindu books for its use and then shows that "the urine [254] was employed in medicine from the most ancient times."2 It was so used in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia. Pliny the Elder refers to its use as medicine in the 18th chapter of the 28th book of his Natural History.3 Galenus, “the most prominent physician of antiquity"4 next to Hippocrates, refers to this fact. It was an Indo-Germanic conception. Prof. Darmesteter, on the authority of Luzel (Le Nirang des Parsis en Basse-Bretagne, Mélusine, 493), says, that "the use of gaomez has been lately found to be known in Basse-Bretagne." (S. B. E., Vol. IV, 1st ed., Introd. p. 88, n. 3).

    1. "On the use of Beef’s Urine according to the precepts of the Avesta and on similar customs with other Nations," by Dr. Eugen Wilhelm, p. 31.

    2. Ibid., p. 29.

    3. Ibid., p. 35.

    4. Ibid., p. 38.

    The urine used for ordinary purifications is the urine of a domesticated animal like the cow, the bull, or even the goat. But the urine used for higher purificatory services is that of an uncastrated bull and it is consecrated with certain ceremonies. The Vendidad enjoins its use for purification in several passages; but the principal passage is the 21st section of the 19th chapter. Therein, there is a question to this effect: How can one purify a person who has become a hamrit (i.e., one who has come into direct contact with a dead body) or a patrit (i.e., one who has come into indirect contact with a dead body by coming into contact with a hamrit)? The reply is, that he can be purified by the urine of a bull that is (a) uncastrated (bikhedrem) and (b) that is properly prepared (dâityô-keretem, i.e., properly consecrated). This passage requires, that the urine must be that of an uncastrated bull, and that the bull must be one properly selected and qualified.

    Rapp on Nirang.

    In considering, what place gaomez or cow's urine or, what is ceremoniously known as "nirang" occupies in Zoroastrian ritual, we must look to the times in which its use was enjoined and also to the idea with which it was enjoined. Prof. Rapp says on this point:- "It would presume little acquaintance with the peculiari­ties of the ancient world, if we wished to bring to bear our [255] present notions of decency and loathsomeness on the customs of old . . . . . Can we judge now of the ideas and customs in this fashion from the point of view of European modern notions? And before we determine to bring in accord all the customs of the ancient world that were employed for purifica­tions to our modern rational notions, we might like to know to be sure what advantage has that blood of an animal which Moses used, in respect of the purpose in view, over the urine of an ox! It will not be possible for us altogether to comprehend the conceptions of the ancient notions of what is pure and what is not pure and of their ceremonies in religious purifications, if we do not ascend up to the very origin of all these notions, namely, to the ancient doctrine of the double creation, that of the pure and of the impure world. That in the purifications so much value is set on the ox and all that issues out of it, the sacred legends of the Zend people make it quite comprehensible. . . . . . . . . . We have seen that the entire ceremonial law of Zoroaster rests upon the conception of a pure and impure creation, and therefrom it follows that the corporeal impurity was just as punishable and just as abhorrent in the eyes of Ahuramazda, the pure, as the moral impurity of the soul, and that men should purify themselves from the first as from the last pollution by just the same means.

    "Now, we believe ourselves to be able to prove that the entire ceremonial law of Moses reposes upon these very ideas and that no one can correctly comprehend nor understand the Mosaic law generally. if he does not start from these ideas when attempting his interpretations."5

    5. K. R. Cama' s Translation of the Article on the Vendidad from the German of Rapp, pp. 15-16, 19.

    An account of the Nirangdin ceremony.

    We will now describe the Nirangdin ceremony, i.e. the ceremony for consecrating the urine. At first. two priests go through the barashnom ceremony of ten days. There is one difference in the barashnom gone through by the priests on this occasion and that gone through by the priests on other ordinary occasions. [256] In the latter case, it is the nocturnal pollution during the first three nights that vitiates the barashnom and necessitates a repetition. But, in the case of the priests who are to perform the Nirangdin ceremonies, they are to pass all the nine nights of the barashnom in vigil, watch and prayer. If they have the nocturnal pollution during any of the ten nights, they are to repeat the barashnom.

    As described in the account of the barashnom ceremony, the complete barashnom takes ten days. On the eleventh day, one of the two priests takes an early bath and puts on a new set of clothes. Then, performing his padyab-kusti, says his morning prayers. Then he performs the Khub6 ceremony. On the second day, i.e., on the twelfth day from the beginning, the second priest performs the Khub ceremony. His colleague, who has performed the Khub ceremony on the first day, gets him through that ceremony. Then, both the priests perform the Gewrâ,6 cere­mony. During the six days of the Gewrâ, the priest whose turn it is to keep the Gewrâ has to pass the night in vigil, as said above. Again, he is to take his meals after reciting the great baj and not the ordinary baj, or prayer of grace. On the completion of the sixth Gewrâ, both the priests perform the baj ceremony and each partakes of the dron consecrated by his colleague. This inter communion, or partaking of the sacred bread consecrated by one another, is spoken of as "being ham­kalam," i.e., "being one or united (ham) in their words (kalâm) of prayer." Then they purify the utensils to collect the urine of the bulls for consecration. They make pav, i.e., ceremonially pure, two large water-pots--one larger than the other-two small water-pots, and a cup that would cover the large water-pot. All these pots are metallic.

    6. Vide above, p. 202. The Nawar ceremony.

    The Varasyô, or Sacred Bull.

    By this time, a white bull known as the Varasyô is brought into the Temple where the ceremony is to be performed. We saw above that the Vendidad refers to an uncastrated bull for the [257] use of the urine, but does not speak of its being a white one. Later books have enjoined that it must be a white one. A single black hair on the body disqualifies it for being used as a sacred bull. The word 'varasyo' comes from the Avesta word 'varesa' meaning 'hair,' because the hair of this white bull is used symbolically in the Yasna ceremony. A metallic ring used in the ritual is known as "varas ni viti," i.e., ‘the ring with the hair.' The hair of this sacred bull is put round the ring.

    The two priests after being "ham-kalâm" as said above, and after making the utensils pâv or religiously pure, go with one of the small metallic pots before the sacred bull and collect his urine in the pot. Even a few drops of his urine are necessary to begin the collection. Having collected his urine, they collect the urine from a number of other ordinary uncastrated bulls. The work of collecting the urine must be finished some time before sunset. When it is so finished, one of the priests per­forms the paragnâ ceremony in the Uzerin Gah, i.e., in the afternoon-period of the day. Then the Vendidad ceremony is performed at midnight, commencing at a little after 12 o'clock. The vessel containing the urine of the sacred white bull and of other uncastrated bulls is placed between the Alat-gah, i.e., the slab of stone on which the sacred utensils for the performance of the ceremony are placed, and the censer of fire. Another vessel containing pure well-water is placed by the side of this vessel. The priests then recite the Vendidad, the recital of which together with the accompanying ritual lasts for about 7 hours. This final ceremony consecrates the urine which is then known as nirangdin, i.e., the consecrated urine. The water consecrated with it is known as âv, i.e., the consecrated water.

    Consecration of the Sacred Bull and his hair.

    In many eastern nations, the bull was held to be an emblem of Life, of Vital Energy. The Egyptians had their Apis. The Hindus have their Nandi. In Christian art, St. Luke [258] is symbolized by an ox, and it is said that this symbolization has some connection with the reference to the ox in Ezekiel (I. 10) and Revelation (IV, 6). The white bull used by the Parsees under the name Varsyô (i.e., the possessor of Varas, or hair which is used in the ritual) reminds us a little of the Apis of the Egyptians. Apis represented the moon. “He was supposed to have been born of a virgin cow rendered pregnant by a moon-beam or a flash of lightning." When he died he "received a splendid burial . . . . . . . . As universal joy pervaded on his discovery, so his death threw all Egypt into general mourning, and everyone shaved off his beard."

    The Parsees have such white bulls in their principal towns. They are held useful for two purposes. One is, as described above, for their urine, which, together with that of other ordi­nary bulls, was consecrated. The second purpose is the use of their varęsa, i.e., hair which is used in the Yasna liturgy to serve as a kind of hair-sieve. This use is referred to in the Visparad (Karda X. 2: varasâi Haomô angharezânâi, i.e., the hair to pass, as through a sieve, the Haoma-juice). This bull is not used for any domestic purpose. On its death, all the liturgical services, wherein his varęsa or hair is used, are stop­ped in the town or towns. Another white bull is immediately sought out and consecrated. Until it is consecrated, all the necessary Vendidad, Yasna, and Visparad ceremonies in which its hair is used cease to be performed in the town, and are directed to be performed in other towns, which have their separate white bulls. This is something like the above. mentioned" general mourning" on the death of Apis in Egypt.

    The Ritual of the consecration of a White Bull.

    The consecration of the Sacred White Bull consists in having its hair carefully cut with religious ritual and then performing the Yasna ceremony with it. All big Parsee centres generally keep such a bull in reserve. On the death of the one in use, the second spare one is brought to an adjoining Fire-temple and washed and cleaned. He is kept within a 'pâvi.' Two Barashnomwala priests who have bathed previously and put on [259] new suits of clothes, perform the pâdyâb, say their morning prayers, perform the Khub ceremony of pânch tâi (i.e., of the five twigs of the Barsom). They then take seven metallic cups, a golden or silver ring, a pair of scissors, and a pair of long metallic tongs, and carefully wash and purify them with pure, clean water. The two priests then go before the bull. One of them holds his tail aloft with the help of the tongs and the other cleans and purifies it with pure water from a pot in his hand. He recites Khshnaothra Ahurahe-Mazdao and one Ashem Vohu, while doing this. He repeats this process three times. Then, facing the south, he outs off with the scissors, referred to above, two hairs from the tail of the bull and ties them on the metallic ring. He does this while reciting the Baj ceremony with three Ashem Vohus and Fravarane up to Vidhvao Mraotu; with the Khshnuman of Ahura Mazda. It is while uttering the word Ashem and two Ahunwars, that he ties the two hairs on the ring. Then he finishes the Baj. The priests then go to the place where the Yasna ceremony is performed, and with the recital of various short prayers and with some ritual, consecrate the above ring with the hair, holding it before the fire, rubbing it with the bhasam or the consecrated ash of the Sacred Fire of the Atash Bahram, and then washing it by dipping it, several times, is the above-referred to metallic cups which are full of pure, clean water. Then, with this newly obtained varesa, or hair, they perform the Gewrâ7 ceremony for six days. On finishing the ceremony on the sixth day, the two priests go before the bull again and washing and purifying his tail as before, take a fresh and a larger quantity of hair. This is distributed among the different temples within the jurisdiction of their temple for being used with the rings in their Yasna and Vendidad ceremonies. This completes the ceremony of the consecration of the bull and of his hair. The liturgical ceremonies, the performance of which was suspended, are now resumed with the symbolic use of the hair of the new bull.

    7. Vide above, p. 202, the Nawar ceremony.