Reincarnation or rebirth is a most controversial issue amongst Parsis. Why controversial? Because, everyone in the community claims to have some authentic source that leads them to believe in resurrection. There are some western scholars who attempted to discredit our beliefs by relating our settlement in India and its local religious (Hinduism, Buddhism) beliefs with Zarathustri traditions and practices. Whereas, there are some who label our scripture-based beliefs as an adoption from Hinduism, Buddhism and so on. We have even Priests who believe that there is no reincarnation preached by our Prophet despite their confession of the fact in high liturgical ceremonies and daily prayers. The references are even in prayers like Jashan, Yazashne , Vendidad and Yasts in support of spiritual process by rebirth or reincarnation. Besides there are hundreds of references in our scriptures that dictates HIS plan for giving rebirth to all Dravands before they reach the final stage of Tanpasin. In the western countries, majority of our community is 100% brilliant in religious matters; at least that's what they think . Our community is flooded with overnight scholars and writers who assume that no one is superior to their wisdom in analyzing religious beliefs. No doubt, there are hundreds of prayer translations and formal & informal groups organized under different names within a small community surveyed under thousands. A point that I am trying to make is, people believe in what they see or think, using their materialistic imagination which is obviously far inferior to understand HIS wisdom. Ignorance of religion has gone to such an extent that today, liberals and even few traditionals openly disrespect our Prophet by propagating religious beliefs contrary to HIS preachings. My dear Zarathustris there are many dimensions in the world however, only three are known to the mankind. In short, what we think or precieve as reality is not even closer to the actual one as given in our scriptures. Allow your mind to absorb what seems unreal to you and then undertake the religious journey in search of the truth which is not further away from your sight if you really want to know. There is a truth in saying 'Where there is WILL there is a WAY'. The following article will highlight some important references from Vendidad, Yazashne, Yasts, and several Pahalvi literature in reference to reincarnation, to educate those who are willing to learn from the scripture- based facts and practices.
Zartathustri Life for Urvaan's Progression:
There are series of events and occurances that helps us to identify our mission in life, which is non other than advancement of Soul to the next stage or a step towards HIM. Today, we have Avesta & Pazand scriptures to practice the messages of our Prophet Asho Zarathustra Spitama; our Agiary & Atash- Behram remains full of divinities and Manthric vibrations for departed or living souls; a Zarathustri child undergoes Navjote ceremony; a couple is blessed by Ashirwad ceremony; a Zarathustri wearing Sudreh/ Kusti everyday; HIS divine teachings to practice Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds; practicing Avesta Manthras and Tarikats; Dokhmenashini for the deceased body; prescription for practicing purificatory rituals (Padyab, Nahn, Barshnum) for specific occasions; prayers and rituals for the deceased. All these events and processes has only one thing in common. They all are 'designed' and 'prescribed' by our Paigambar Saheb to help us protect & advance our Urvaan to the next stage of progression towards Frashokereti. How many people from our community understands this concept of progression? Very few. No matter how many cars and houses we own, no matter how famous social worker or politician or a professional we are, we own nothing but a "fiery body" which is designed to progress through our deeds. Whatever is the outcome of our physical life portrayed in terms of thoughts, words and deeds are subject to rewards or punishment depending on the nature of those outcome weighed in comparison with the prescribed route - religion (Jhirem) made for that soul. In short, this life is all about the Soul and its progression. Here one thing is established that our life is nothing but a series of events that we have to go through, in order to accomplish something benefitial for our soul's progression.
Return of Urvaan as per His Commandments:
There are many theories and intellectual exercises on the existence of Soul and its attributes undertaken by religious intellects and self-made scholars of the world. All five major religions prescribe rebirth which is known and practiced by only 25% to 30% population of each community. Lets look into our religion and explore the mystics related to Urvaan (Soul) in conjunction with its relation with this world. According to Zarathustrianism, there are four classes of Soul (Ashonam, Ashaonam, Pouryotakeshan, Nabanazdishtanam) that I have described in my article "Zarathustri Soul and HIS Divine Plan". One must understand that this life on earth is for the progression of Soul and not for any other purpose. If life is meant for the Soul which has been categorized as above, there has to be gradation and stages through which each one of them has to successfully pass through for its place in Garonamana. As human soul is categorized much below in the first category, it cannot reach the stage of the highest category, one like Ashavan's (Nabanazdishtanam Class) within one birth. As mentioned earlier, our soul has to pass through various processes and life cycles before it can merge back into 'Ahu' - the original source of life and creator of this entire Universe. Such design is made by HIM to allow our soul to enter Garonamana, ONLY AFTER it has successfully released all Dravao, Druj attached to it. That is why, in Hormuzd Yast we humans are referred as 'Daevanam Masyanamcha'. One birth is obviously not sufficient to complete this gigantic task in front of us; the very reason why HE created this world. Here, another fact is established that there is something within us (Soul) which depends on our worldly wisdom to think, speak and react to the surroundings - a series of events that helps that part of our body or Soul to advance in the spiritual world.
If there is only one birth or life-cycle required to be a part of HIS Minoi world, then Meher, Sarosh, & Rashne Yazatas who takes part on the Judgment day, weighing the 'Kerdar' of that Soul for its designated place, are not doing justice to Ahu's creations, since they will have to judge two elements in each soul; 'good Kerdar' and another with 'bad Kerdar' for their proper place in Garothman Behest in HIS world or return journey for improving their spiritual condition. If there is no rebirth for a person with a bad Kerdar then, whether it is a new born child dead at birth or within few months, one who lived the holiest of the holy life, one who lived partially holy and partially material life, one who lived as atheist or, a person who has done the worst of the worst crime, say murder for instance; all will be be weighed equal and eligible to enter in HIS Divine World. If there is resurrection then, its like getting permission from God to do whatever we feel right to meet our desires and aspirations, whether you steal, stab someone to death or live a humble, honest, and religious life, you will be taken care of on your return to HIM. If this is what has been preplanned by HIS Majesty in precosmogenesis, then why there is a need to send humans to this world? If by death all of our 'Anasars' becomes 'Noori' (Divine) for 'Tanpasin' (explained later) than there is no need for this world and various creations to survive, as all counterparts of soul will then merge into one body during Khaethvodat. There shouldn't remain anything like life & death, religions or planetary conditions influencing the existence of soul in this world!
As given above, all events and processes, that we are supposed to go through during this life time has only one reason - Ravaan-Bokhtagi i.e. redemption of the Soul. Now, the question is how does it happen? In the final benediction during Uthamna ceremony, following paragraph is recited by the Priests: "Yesha keshan duz-myazdan khar khutam om Veh-Din-e Mazdayasnan ravan dad hend, Oem veh-Din-e Mazdayasnan be-ayand, Agar na ayand, guzarg umed, Meher Fragayod Davar-e Rast zutar pistar be-rasad."
Meaning:- May those who have to partake of evil food (i.e. suffer the consequences of their bad Karma) come back (Be-Ayand) among the good religion itself. However, if they are not liable to come, i.e. take rebirth (Agar na Ayand), may they speedily and at the earliest advance towards Meher Yazad of vast pastures.
Yasna 49-11 says that "The souls of evil rulers, evil doers, evil speakers, those with evil conscience, evil thinkers and the followers of Untruth DO COME BACK (Paiti Urvano Paityeinte) by reason of their 'evil food' (i.e. the bad fruits of their evil Kerdar). Truly they are the dwellers of the "Region of Lie" (Drujodemaney). We have to WORK for our Soul to attain that status to be qualified for Garothman Behest which is not automatic by becoming a Zarathustri or wearing Sudreh & Kusti or believing in some Baba or practicing Daevayasni following other religious beliefs.
Paigambar Saheb has given us 'prescriptions' to follow in order to attain Ravaan-Bokhtagi. HIS prescriptions can be described in a nutshell as Ashoi- Mithra-Manthra-Yasna-Tarikat. By following this prescription, our Urvaan can advance to the next stage of progression but there is no certainity to attain Ravaan-Bokhtagi within one birth. We have to WORK for accumulating 'food' (Khvarethem [Yasna 31-20 and 53-6] or Dush Myazd) for our soul to be virtuous and 'acceptable' to advancement. That is why, we humans are not perfect to be the part of HIS world. Imperfection is not imposed or deliberated upon human to suffer but, one should take it as a blessing to serve HIM by fighting against all evil in material life to allow HIM to recover back "HIS Part" (Soul) dominated by evil since the creation of this world. The doctrine of Resurrection is not inconsistent with Reincarnation. Both are true, but many incarnations have to precede the final liberation.We have to go through numerous life cycles to be resurrected.
"Vispe dravanto tanu-drujo yoi adereto-tkaesha,
Vispe adereto-tkaesho yoi asraosho,
Vispe asraosho yoi anashavano,
Vispe anashavano yoi tanu-pereto." --- Vendidad Pargarad 16 para 18
"All the dravands i.e who commit a breach of the laws of Ashoi, and who keep their body vibrating with Drujih or evil magnetic influence, who are not observers of religious canons; all the nonobservers of religious canons who are far from Srosh i.e. the collective Yazadic force: all those who are far from Srosh who are not holy or non-practitioners of Ashoi; all the unholy are recurring to the physical tenement or are reincarnating.
Four Anasars of Dravand for Salvation:
Anasar is a technical term used for the four vital parts of body ( Fire, Water, Air, Earth) that are attuned with its spiritual counterparts in the divine world. We human are assigned a specific religion to follow and practice in order to convert these four elements into Gao-Chithra (Divine body) which portrays freedom from Druj or in other words, attaining ultimate humility, obedience unto HIS power to help our Urvaan to proceed towards Garonamana. Since most of the scholars and even people from our community believe that Gathas are the ultimate truth and all other scrptures are made up by the later saints, lets quote Gathas for explaining rebirth to make their life more simpler. The Gathas were conveyed to humans for practice and their spiritual progression. It describes human as the one who carries "life" (Jivanto) and one who is subject to death (Maretano). The Gatha 49-11 describes the characteristics of a Dravand: - Dravands are liars (Druj-Vachangha) thus they are sinners by mind (Druj-Manangha); their mind is full with lustful desires; they misuse their authority and become cruel and practice injustice in their actions (DusheShathro); they are far from doing good deeds because they are sinners by deeds (Dushsyaothneng) as they generate Druj-filled surrounding by their daily practices; they malpractice their Daena and its Tarikats whereby abusing their Daena and HIS voice within, they remain in "Drujo Deman" and they return to the same place.
In Avesta, the most common meaning of word "Daena" is expressed as "conscience " or " HIS-given Path". In Gatha 49-11, this term has been used to compare the status of Dravand Soul from Ashavan Soul. Those who follow their own Daena and follow its Tarikats and practices will achieve the status of Ashavan whereas; those who abuse or get strayed from their Daena (in search of answers for their corrupted mind) are "Duj-Daenang". In short, if a Mazdayasni practices Ahura-Tkash and Tarikats, he can become an Ashavan, a status that leads one to salvation for which everyone of us has to WORK. The above reference implies that for such a Mazdayasnian, there is Tanpasin (final stage to proceed towards Minoi World) and not Tanasak (birth-death life cycles). In short, he is free from Tanasak as his four Anasars (spiritual ingredients in body) will then become one of Gao-chithra, which merges back into the Urvaan to secure its place in Garothman Behest. Just by becoming Mazdayasni Zarathustri will not qualify us to be Ashavan. There are painstaking exercises for every reward that our Soul anticipates. Thus, one has to attain the above qualifications in order to be free from these life cycles of birth & death. We Zarathustris are though 'qualified' and have 'elements' to attain the above stage we are far from the final stage as we are no less than a Dravand. From the time we get up in the morning till we return to bed at night we commit all kinds of sins and create Drujih around us. That is why I always emphasize on PRACTICING AVESTA MANTHRAS AND TARIKATS to achieve whatever we can in our share (Panje Zarvekashe Batem) towards the final Tanpasin leading us toward Farshogard.
The way we practice our religion and the surrounding influences that tempts or compels us to do all sorts of anti-human, anti-Zarathustri deeds, we are no more than a Dravand (practitioner of Druj). The worldly obligations and responsibilities makes us physically, mentally and socially incapable of practicing all of HIS divine laws and regulations. However, there are some who conveniently ignore their religious responsibilities to meet their worldly demands for survival. Such groups are everywhere in India, US, Canada and other eastern and western countries. Refer my article on "Practicing Avesta Manthra" on the detail meaning of Dravand and its relation to mankind.
The above explanation proves one more point that even though our Gathas and other scriptures dictates the condition after death one must realize that those were the ideal conditions established for Ashavans and not meant for people like us who practice Druj-Daenang, Druj-Vachangha, Druj-Manangha, DusheShathro, Dushsyaothneng. We have to remain in Drujo-Deman until our soul is fit to attain salvation through Tanpasin. My dear Zarathustris, reaching a stage of Ashavan or in process of progressing your Soul towards their level is far beyond human comprehension. Ask yourself, would you consider yourself PERFECT in following HIS Daena? Obviously, no one can say YES, I DO. If we accept that truth then, lets not waste time, and begin that journey today by disciplining our daily life based on our religious injunctions and practicing HIS Divine formula Mithra-Manthra-Yasna-Tarikat.
Sheshab & Drujo-Deman:
After death, our soul remains attracted to this world for the deeds (good or bad) or obligations towards people and things happened during its lifetime. Example: material & emotional ties with family, friends and relatives. The soul has to release itself from such attractions to proceed further towards the judgment day. This earthly attraction is called "Sheshab" and the condition in which one has to release itself from such attraction is known as "Sedosh", that is where the soul remain for three days after death. In Avesta, a word "Daojungah" (Daojava or Dozakht) is used for two conditions: - Dozakht of living-world is called 'Drujo-Deman' whereas, Dozakht after death in Sheshab is called 'Daojava'. During the lifetime, a person undergoes lots of hardships because of the 'faults of flesh' which is called "Astayo". The "Astayo"condition is full with "Daojungah" which is clearly described in Khordad Yast. After some time the Soul gets released from this condition and become Sedosh to hold Pawand or connection with Ardafravash and Sarosh Yazad, which is known "Anaosha" or "Anushehi". When Urvaan's consciousness is active with Ushi of Baodh and Farohar it remains for 57 years in Anushehi of Sedosh condition and passes through Chinvat Bridge to proceed towards Rishtakhiz. Thus, real death occurs only at the other end of Chinvat Bridge and such death carries with it abundant 'Ushta' (happiness) for its union with 'Baodh' and 'Farohar'. At that time 'Anasar' body that was acquired during Rishtakhiz gets dissolved; Kehrpa-Ushtan-Teveshi gets Paiwand with Urvaan; all Anasars become a part of Gao-Chithra and meets Urvaan. Then, Urvaan covers itself with that Noori Anasars for 'Tanpasin' and proceed towards 'Dadare-Gehan' for final 'Khaetwodath'. One must realize that Urvaan first proceeds towards Rishtakiz and then for Tanpasin.
The above process applies to Mazdayasnian Ashavan and not any Baste-Kustian who practice Druj in daily life. Upon death of a Dravand like us, Urvaan has to struggle to disown Druj-i-Nasu, and bad parts of its Aipi. It remains unconscious in 'Sheshub' during the first four days after death, and that is when Urvaan needs maximum help through our prayers and thus death ceremonies are compulsory. The Urvaan's consciousness starts energizing 100 minutes prior to Chahrum and subsequently acquires Anushehi on the forth day. At this point, it has to witness its pass life and its accomplishments and what 'Jhirems' (Paths, Religions) were prepared for its final journey. On Bamdad of Chahrum, Urvaan lands on 'Gangadaz' steps of Chinvat Bridge where it faces serious pain on getting pulled by two conditions: Sheshab & Anoshe. This condition is called "Daojava Dozakhi" and pain during that time is called "Tojashne Tavae Din". There are many events happen thereafter which I would like to cut short at this point. At a certain stage when Kehrpa-Ushtan-Teveshi and Tanu-Gaetha- Azda gets separated, all Anasars also starts following the process where Urvaan is so attached with its (Anasars) connection that it prays 12th Karda of Patet and same does all Anasars and waits for the Judgment. The Urvaan of Dravand then meets its Anasars and prepares to take rebirth in Drujo-Deman. The last sentence is very important from the standpoint of the final disposal method (cremation, burial) conveniently used by the Zarathustri families in western countries. If the deceased body is not released for Dokhmenashini under PaviKat area, that means sending to India or Pakistan where there are active Dakhma still maintained for service, the Urvaan will not be able to recover its Anasars and deeds attached to them for the next birth. That is why we discourage cremation, burial and even donation of parts to during lifetime and after death.
Our scriptures dictates that if a Mazdayasni follows and practice Ahura- Takesh & Tarikats, he becomes "Ashava" however, if he does not become one of "Vedaivo" and pair himself with "Daeva" then he becomes Dravand. The one who is qualified as "Ashava" earns Garothman Behest whereas, the one who pairs with "Daeva" has to WORK for his Soul by taking rebirth to convert his Anasars into Gao-Chithra to make a Noori-Tan that can meet its Urvaan for the final stage Tanpasin leading towards Khaethvodat.
Rebirth for Karma, Kerdar & Consciousness:
Today, in this world of impurities, evil and corrupted practice, human is compelled to be a part of the system generated by human mind, which may or may not relate to HIS spiritual composition. When a person born in and follows Zarathustri religion, practices Tarikats and all of HIS commandments, he is NOT going to take rebirth. However, following every details of the religion, which is a Path designed by HIM for our Salvation, is difficult to abide with, due to human created adversities of life and mechanisms of survival. Under such circumstances, our deeds (Karma) will be a judge of how far our Soul can progress to build a Kerdar which will be finally judged by Meher, Sarosh and Rasne Yazads on the Chinvat Bridge.
Our Good &Bad thoughts, words and deeds are registered in three places: 1. Aipi (surrounding spiritual field), 2. Earth (place where thoughts, words & deeds are performed), 3. In South, if it is Good, and towards North, if it is Bad. At the time of death, Aipi, Urvaan and Kehrpa reaches the lower portion of the Chinvat Bridge where, Urvaan tries to clear bad parts from Aipi whereby it cleans Kerdar for the judgment time. This is the time when rituals and ceremonies performed during the first four days helps for the departed Soul attain the best status for its Judgment. After that process, Urvaan and Kehrpa proceeds toward the upper section of the Chinvat Bridge where it witnesses four mystic Anasars (components) of body that is left behind on Geti. This is the place and time when Urvaan sees through its entire Kerdar of good and bad deeds committed during its life time with the help of all three consciousness: Urvaan, Kerhpa, Earthly (of 4 Anasars) activated wide open. Here Urvaan realizes the true reason and purpose of its life on earth, and his Earthly (Anasari) consciousness repents for its bad deeds during its life span. Here the Judgment is passed and the Soul is required to take rebirth for its Karma and thus reincarnation.
Hormuzd Yast Nirang
"Yaa Dadar Ahura-Mazda, Ahiriman Marochinidaar, Nigunam Divaan, Bar Budne Rishtakiz, Tanpashin Begumanam." In this Nirang we say to Dadar Ahura-Mazda that I am working against the forces of Ahriman who is trying to destroy my Farshogard and I am confident on attaining Ristakhiz and Tanpasin with your presence within me. Here, it implies that a person has disowned Ahiriman by following Tarikats of Mazdayasni religion to ensure that his Kerdar will remain good and judged only for Tanpasin. Here, a devotee prays for the final stage "Tanpasin" that one attains only if all requirement of HIS Divine plan is met to rise to the level of Ashavan. There is another reference in Rapithvan Afrin where the devotee is tying up a Paiwand with Rapithwan and other spiritual entities that is going to be part of Farshogard whereby he makes a commitment to practice anti- Druj laws, rules and regulations.
With ever-increasing complexity of society and human needs, there exist evil in every walk of life. When the earth gets overburdened with sins and bad deeds, Dadar Ahura-Mazda sends Paigambar Saheb with Vedaevo-dat to control Daevic power on humans to expedite Farshogard. There are successors of Asho Zarathustra who are known as Saosyants, who periodically appear on earth and establish Minoi Alaats to help us attain Farshogard. Yazashne Ha 24:5, Visparad 11:7, Farvardin Yast Para 17 and Zamyat Yast Para 22 explicitly describes these Saosyants who preside on earth with certain Alaats to reduce the power of evil to help expedite Farshogard. Rainedar Saheb Dastur Adarbad Marespand was one of those Saosyants who designed our prayers and prescribed Tarikats to help us achieve that Ashoi status to attain Ristakiz to reach Tanpasin for Farshogard. However, we are not even close to what we can gain from His sacred prescriptions; in fact, day by day, we continue to drag ourselves towards the house of evil, challenging His power and gifts that Saosyants like Dastur Adarbad Marespand has bestowed upon us. Practicing HIS Given Path and prescriptions is the only choice we have, and Rebirth for Karma obligations and achieving Noori Kerdar for Tanpasin is obviously unprecedented.
Hadokht Nask Para 33 to 36 has a fascinating explanation of rebirth of soul, reason for returning to the darkness (Geti) and its encountering Ganamino who does briefing to the Soul for following his commandments. In this para, the returning Urvaan is questioned by another one "Kat Dravo Avamairyangah" meaning, "from where and why did you die and return to this dreadful place." "Kat te Dregem Aavoya Anghat" meaning, "how was the place from where you have come from? Did you enjoy happiness or suffered misery? In the above paragraph, the Urvaan says to itself " I accept the justice of Dadar Ahura Mazda, as I am confident of getting the final Farshogard by practicing Manthras, no matter how many times I have to return." In the Hadokht Nask, there are four stages described towards Urvaan's return where "Akaish Kharethaish Paiti Urvaano Paityainti" explains the return of the Urvaan carrying bad food (deeds) with its Kerdar to Drujo-Deman (Geti) i.e. this world. In paragraph 36, Ganamino tries to establish its rule by saying "Kharethnamahe Beretnaam Vishyaotcha Vish-Gaityaatcha" I will feed the poisonous food to those who arrive by rebirth. According to Haptan Yast Karda 7, Kehrpa-Tevishi-Ushtan enters the pregnant body on 3months and 27 days, and Urvaan enters the "Anasari" body during the fifth month of maturity in the mother's womb.
The leader, the great saint Dastur Nairyosang Dhaval composed 16 Sloakas in Sanskrit and recited them to the King Jadi Rana on January 4, 716 A.D. Roj Behman, Mah Tir - 85 YZ for getting permission to reside on the land of India. The 15th Sloaka reads as follows: "TO REDEEM LIFE'S CIRCLE OF REBIRTH WE FOLLOW STRICTLY PATH OF: RIGHTEOUSNESS, INTEGRITY, PURITY, HONESTY. OUR PRAYERS ARE OFFERED TO GOD'S CREATIONS SUN, FIRE, EARTH WITH REVERENCE, INCENSE ON ATASH AND WITH FLOWER PRESENTATION."
My dear Zarathustris, every facet of life is well established in our scriptures and that is why, compositions of Avesta Manthras are known as "Farhanghan Frangha" knowledge of all knowledge's, science of all sciences. Common sense is nothing but escapism and intellectual exercises are an outcome of our inquiring mind, which is obviously corrupted by material thinking process that has inherent limitations. A human life may be well explored by human however, religion is far beyond human comprehension to understand spiritual compositions and hidden secrets allegorically stated in HIS words. I hope I have exhausted sufficient evidences to make Zarathustris believe in our prayers and its implications. For scholars religion is an intelligent exercise whereas for us it is a question of life and death. We live by its tenets for the progression of our soul and, how well we practice the messages of Paigambar Saheb Asho Zarathustra Spitama and not one by the western scholars. Whether you believe in Reincarnation or Resurrection, ultimately what is going to happen or the process through which your soul is going to pass through, has already been established as per our scriptures. Your material beliefs, thoughts or arguments stand invalid and insignificant when HE IS THE CAPTAIN OF YOUR SOUL AND THIS ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
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