Zarathustrianism is based on rituals and ceremonies and in today's complexities of the "human world", it is extremely unfavorable for a Priest to practice our religion in its entirety. The amount of scriptures and religious practices that we have preserved till this day are the gifts of those learned, pious Priest of Iran and India, who, despite adverse forces during their times, preserved them for us to practice for thousands of years to come. Though it is hard to replace them, their knowledge and wisdom has streamed through their family to enable Atash-e-Vohufriyan burning among their heirs for generations to protect and preserve our religion.
Zarathustri religion is a divine PATH designed for the unfoldment of Urvaan and its final resting-place in the Abode of Ahura-Mazda. An Athravan is a guide, protector and caretaker of HIS Daena. He has to play multiple roles in modern society in order for him to be effective in spreading HIS messages among the community.
Our scriptures designate 15 qualities and eight classes of Athravan. These 15 qualities are found in all eight classes of Athravan :- Fraberetar, Aaberetar, Aasnatar, Rathvishkar, Haavanan, Atarvakh, Zaota, and Saroshavarz however, each class varies in the "level of advancement" and control over its qualities. In short, some classes are far more superior in demonstrating their energized qualities.
In Frabereta class, there is one quality Avizeh Heem (out of 15 qualities of Athravan) which is fully energized so as to lead his life free from lustful, contagious, infectious surroundings to practice HIS commandments without any compromises and exceptions. He has religious knowledge and wisdom to overcome the obstacles created by "lustful attractions" of this world. He has developed a strong union of mind, body and speech with pure "Avizeh" conscience and he keeps no ill feelings about others or restore them within to hurt or be revengeful in any way. Only those who have this Avizeh Heem quality are only authorized to be Athravan. Because of this quality, he has energized the second quality Aasne Kerad which provides him exceptional mental capacity to understand HIS Daena and its implications and applications under earthly surroundings. He understands the reasons for economic disparities between rich and poor and be respectful with everyone regardless of their race, gender, religion or culture. He has somewhat or fully developed "Deen-Aspanargaan" (quality to revive religion) which enables him to lead, direct and revive faith in people. It enables him to spreading religion among those unfortunates who are ignorant of their role and gifts of life offered in our scriptures. He always puts on Sudreh-Kusti and follows Tarikats to make them his foremost powerful weapons against Drujihs in this world. The Athravan having fully developed Din Aspanargaan quality has capability to do miracles and revive our faith (as Arda-e-Viraf, during the Sassanian dynasty.) A person having Frabaretar quality is capable of serving the Athravans of higher status and the latter ones are not allowed to "breathe" with anyone but Athravans having Frabaretar quality.
When an Athravan reaches the next Aabaretar stage, he has ability to conserve spiritual power in his Sudreh-Kusti. His Kusti has power to cure illness, distort magic if it touches a magician, and it possesses extraordinary power to improve the Drujih-filled surroundings. He has quality and power of Yazdaan Minodar, meaning, it can consume only such type of spiritual energy that has brightness of Yazdaan. He has quality of Mino Venarshne by virtue of which he can visualize spiritual entities and processes through his eyes. His presence calms down wild animals, prostitutes become "straight" and obedient to husband, snake gives up its attitude to attack with poisonous bite. He has quality of Rasta Gavashne by virtue of which, whatever he says will happen. Because of that reason he always remains in Baj or silence and does recite Manthras day and night. He has power to purify water by extracting Vathvo-Frado from his eyes for intensive purification of Alaats of high liturgical ceremonies.
When a Athravan of Aaberetar status expands his quality of Kherdi Kunashni and spreads his power in his surroundings, it bestows him Aasnatar status which qualifies him to identify the presence and significance of HIS blessings in everyone - in pious person or a prisoner. He has no anger or evil thoughts. He can prove the presence of Ahura-Mazda in good and bad, he can identify the product of good deeds and bad deeds. He has Chisti-Vastarem (a person who spreads his highest wisdom), and power to explain the gifts of Manthras-Yasna and make people follow them in its entirety. He has developed energy of Yozdah, which he can extend to illuminate Atareh-Froba.
When a Athravan acquires a quality, status and energy of Shiva-Hizvaan, he is said to have reached the status of Rathvishkar. He can lead, guide and show the true path to the Anjuman. The energy of his Fravashi is perfectly attuned with him. As Ratu, he serves the Athravans of "higher status" in Yasna ceremony and arranges Alaats to develop attunement with Yazads. When Athravan starts reaching the status of Narm-Nask, he moves into Havanan status and eventually lands into Aatarvakhs status. Athravan of Aatarvakhs status is best qualified to perform Haom Yast and explain its meaning and implications. He is the one who can understand the esoteric meaning of 21 Nasks and has the power to extract certain portions from it as Rainedars. Because of having Raasta Avesta (those who recite Avesta correctly) quality within them, when they recite Avesta, the entire earth gets blessed and activated. Those who are fortunate to hear such Athravans of Havanan status reciting Avesta, will experience a certain form of energy within them that weakens the strength of Gahna-Mino.
When power of Paadiyaav Sayashne fully blossoms in an Athravan he reaches the status of Atarvakhs and than Zaota respectively. Once again, as a reminder, every Athravan after holding a status of Fraberetar has all 15 qualities as mentioned above however, they varies in its intensity and maturity of that quality depending on how far each quality is blossomed to be effective. Those Athravans who has Paadiyaav Sayashne quality and knowledge of this outside world can practice our religion with the strength of Manthravani and Tarikats. They naturally acquire a divine strength to be faithful to HIS Daena and, make other Baste-Kustians follow HIS Path. He considers a great sin to uncover his head or live without Sudreh and Kusti. He has power and capability to cure any disease or medical problems. It is said that he is the true medical Doctor, and true physician of Tabesh-Zan and Baeshaz-Daah status. Such Athravan can "practice" and "activate" Alaats and build Atash-Behram, perform Buoy ceremony and, have ability to "communicate" with Sarosh Yazad attached with the consecrated Atash-Behram. During Buoy ceremony while performing Chakras and with the power of his recitation (of Manthras), he can "shook" this entire world. He can visually demonstrate and explain how and why Chakras are formed in attunement with Keshwars and the path of its illumination.
It is said that only after the age of 52, a certain form of energy called Naavar Jivaan blossoms in Athravan and he gets status of Zaota. Only such Athravan can become Joti in high liturgical ceremonies. Athravan with energy of Naavar Jivaan actually becomes a part of HIS world. He is no longer think or behave like human. He spends his life in solving distortions in the secrets of nature especially mal-practices in the performance of Yasna. He will teach those students of religion to remember Manthras with correct pronunciations. He will marry and procreate and his kids are naturally born with disciplined mind and personality. An Athravan appointed as Dasturan Dastur is selected from these families. The Anjuman of Magavs constantly watches such Athravans. Magavs are excluded from human needs, family and procreation as they are (part of Khaitwadat) free from their life-cycles. There Anjuman comprises of 72 Magavs leaded by an extraordinary one named Saroshavarez. Such divine entities live far from human civilization. Aosta Behramshah Shroff was destined to be the only one who came in contact with such group to learn the esoteric side of Zarathustri religion, which is well known as Ilme-Khsnoom.
There are several issues related to an Athravan's quality, role and significance in religious matters; they are as follows:
1. First and foremost, the parents (of Athravan family) must guide and educate their son from childhood in religious matters to prepare him to serve the community by becoming one of HIS faithful servant, protecting and preserving the tenets of our religion. It is the parent's responsibility to make sure he gets religious education and lead a religious life to be a role model for our community.
2. In modern times, the Athravan's role is more a challenge than mere serving the community. He has to educate himself in ritual/ceremonies related Tarikats and issues that can help him to protect and defend the original teachings of Ahura-Mazda from getting corrupted by every Tom Dick and Harry who claims to be the scholar of Zoroastrianism. He has to defend our scriptures, traditions and religious philosophies from the foreign scholars who are obviously unknown to the intrinsic parts and values of our religion.
3. He acts as a medium between the spiritual world and material world. Under no circumstances he is allowed to reformat, alter or compromise any part of our scriptures. Neither he is expected to set a precedence in offering his services to any Zarathustri based on his/ her economic or social status or condition. HIS Daena, ritualistic laws and practices and completeness of Tarikats applies to all with no exception or compromise. Whether his service is needed in India, Pakistan, Unites States or Hong-Kong, he has to follow HIS commandments with no exception.
4. Every Athravan has the above mentioned 15 qualities, however very few realize it's presence and methods of cultivation for their spiritual development. It is the matter of social upbringing and how far one is educated in religious matters to cultivate those qualities within for effective implementation of HIS commandments.
No matter how far the foreign scholars of Zoroastrianism progress in abusing the tenets of our religion by advertising anti-religious concepts and implications based on their literal translations or understanding, they can never equal the spiritual composition of an Athravan in interpreting HIS Daena in its true form.
In Bahman Yast, Ahura-Mazda speaks to Asho Zarathustra Spitaman "O Zarathustra, teach the religion, Avesta, Zand and Pazend to the priests so that they may act (according to them) and teach them to mankind. Those who are not acquainted with the religion may become acquainted with it so that they may have hopes of the Future Existence and of the release of their souls. During those perplexing times, religious men will undergo great trouble and difficulty, and they will be in trouble at the hands of "juddins" (non- Zoroastrians); but although their bodies will be in trouble and distress, their souls will be flourishing and happy in heaven. If a person does not put his body in sore trial in this world, then he keeps his soul in need in the spiritual world and it will be enfeebled and will be in pain and trouble."
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
By Ervad Hoshang J. Bhadha, PH.D.
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