Yasna 20: "Framraot Ha".
(To be prayed during Muktad days)
By Pervin J. Mistry
Yasna 20, known as Framraot-no Ha, is a commentary on the Ashem Vohu Prayer. Ashem Vohu and Ahunavar are the 2 most sacred and potent manthra uttered by Ahura Mazda at the dawn of creation. The holy Avesta teaches that the universe was manifest according to His Primordial Thought, embodying His Divine Consciousness (Vohu Mano). It was the first and foremost utterance of Ahunavar that brought the universe into being. Together with the Ahunavar, the fundamental declaration of Ashem Vohu (Ashoi) as manifested through Vohu Mano, sustains and guides the Universe towards Spiritual Perfection.
Ashem Vohu teaches that righteousness (purity) is the best virtue; spiritual fulfillment through righteousness comes to one who lives and imparts this virtue to others; and, righteousness is best for the sake of righteousness alone, without expectations of reward. In other words, Ashem Vohu teaches devotion, humility, self-sacrifice and purity of body, mind and soul.
Yasna 20: "Framraot Ha":
Yasna ha 20, also known as "Framraot Ha", includes and elaborates the principles of 1) Asha, 2) Vohu Mano and 3) Ushta or Spiritual Ecstasy. It is commonly referred to as "Framraot Ha" because it is dedicated to the righteous Fravashis. It is propitious to pray this ha every day but it is prayed especially during the last 5 days of Asfandarmad mah, from Astad to Mino Aneran roj, which begin the first 5 days of "muktad", or "panj-e keh"; also called "Fravardegan" days in honor of the Fravashis.
"Framraot" is a compound word derived from "fra" meaning "to go forth", "to fulfil"; and "mraot" means "teaching" or "dictate". "Fra" refers to the Divine Fravashis, who, as Protectors and Dispensers of Ahura Mazda's Will fulfill His Divine Dictate to bring about "Frasho-Kereti". "Fra" is specifically identified with one of the Cosmic Energies of Ahura Mazda, referred to as "Adar Fra". Embodying the Divine Essence of Ahura Mazda, the Fravashis are holy and pure, and subsequently immortal. They are so by reason of their spiritual composition, reflecting the Invisible Fire (Asha Vahishta) of Ahura Mazda, manifesting His Spiritual Consciousness (Vohu Mano). It follows that the Fravashis, Vohu Mano and Asha Vahishta are inseparably linked. Any Parsi-Irani-Zarathushti, who helps to advance the Divine Aim of "Frasho-Kereti" (Renovation) through "purity", is a practitioner of 'Framraot". As illustrated, "Framraot Ha" (Ashem Vohu) is an exposition of how Frasho-Kereti is achieved through Asha, Vohu Mano and Ushta.
Fravashi, Fravardegan and Frasho-Kereti:
The trio of Fravashi, Fravardegan and Frasho-Kereti is interconnected. To redeem itself at Frasho-Kereti, the Divine Essence or Spirit initiates a nine-fold graded descent to material or physical embodiment. The highest, which is the purest and righteous, is called "Fravashi". It brings forth, from itself, material manifestation and, as preconceived by Ahura Mazda, helps Asha Vahishta, Vohu Mano and the other Ameshaspands to transmute physical creation to its original state of Divine Energy or Spirit. The two: spirit and matter, are interconnected and coeval because the spiritual and material manifestations are inseparable from each other till the Divinely Appointed Event of Frasho-Kereti is achieved.
Frasho-Kereti" in Pahlavi is "Frashogard", meaning "Renovation". "Gard" or "gherd" means a "fortress", "enclosure" or "container". It stands to reason that the Fravashis mould, bring forth the "container" of the spirit, in stages, to fulfil the Divine Aim of Frasho-Kereti. Being wholly spiritual, and in order to remain so, the Fravashi itself does not descend to material regions of space to transmute itself to matter. Rather, it sends forth a ray, a portion of itself to the next descending plane of manifestation. This ray, called "baod", divides in similar manner upon further descent and "urvan" is brought forth. In an identical process, the 9 components of the human constitution are formed, the last being the "tanu" or the physical body. The Fravashi prevails as the overseer of all the components. Hence, the Fravashis, in a genuine sense, preside over Creation from spirit to matter, and back from matter to spirit, to Frasho-Kereti!
To aid Spenta Armaity (Asfandarmad Ameshaspand) in her mission to bring about Frasho-Kereti, the Fravashis actively participate by spreading added benevolent influences on Earth specifically during the 18 days of Fravardegan. Being Immortal, they partake of Ahura Mazda's Omnipresence. They spread their spiritual influences in 3 stages.
i) During the last 5 days of the 12 th month, Asfandarmad mah (Ashtad roj to Aneran roj), known as "panj-e keh", the Fravashis aid Spenta Armaity by infusing the Earth with resurgence of heat and vitality, thereby preserving the cosmic harmony between light and darkness. Through "Hamaspath-Maedaem" Gahambar, celebrated during the last five days, "panj-e keh", this essential harmony is sustained.
ii) For the next 5 days, known as "panj-e meh", or the Gatha days, the Fravashis continue to aid Spenta Armaity by reviving Nature with added spiritual vitality through the 5 Yazatic Channels called the Gathas. The 5 Gathas are not simply sacred "songs"; they are also Spiritual Beings or Yazads as mentioned in Yasna ha 55. They are referred to as "Ratukhshthrabyo", "Lords of Truth possessing the Divine Authority of Ahura Mazda", "Spentabyo", "Beings in charge of Spiritual Progress", "Ashaonibyo", or "Beings who emanate Ahura Mazda's Law and Order". They are also called "Ahuraonghaho", Lords under Ahura Mazda's Command ( ha 30.9, 31.4). The Gathas, as Spiritual Beings, are in charge of spiritual progress ultimately realizing the Divine Aim of Frasho-Kereti. During the Gatha days, the Fravashis, together with these 5 Spiritual Beings, circulate additional Cosmic Light and Staot that are Ahura Mazda's Life Force or Divine Energy. They infuse in the physical world, through the chanting of the Gathic manthra, obedience to His Will (Ahunavad), "ushta" or spiritual ecstasy through self-sacrifice (Ushtavad), devotion and self-dedication to spiritual perfection (Spentomad), spiritual courage and divine authority (VohuKshathra), and realization of the Divine Union or fulfillment of His Will (Vahishta-Ishti). Through the Gathas, with the added collaboration of Fravashis, Nature receives a spiritual revival to begin the New Year.
iii) Next, the Fravashis give impetus to Rapithwin to re emerge giving strength and vitality to vegetation to blossom and sustain life. Resurgence of Life signifies the Resurrection of Spirit. Rapithwin is officially manifest on Ardibehesht roj, Fravardin mah. The vital heat of Rapthwin, which annually goes underground for 5 months under Spenta Armaity's protection, is resurrected by the Fravashis during the Fravardegan days. For the first 7 days of the 1st month that is dedicated to the Fravashis (Fravardin mah), they aid the 7 Ameshaspands in fulfilling the goal of Frasho-Kereti. The direct intervention of Fravashis is given way on the dawn of the 18th day to other "hamkars" (Special Assistants) of Ahura Mazda to guide Nature on its path to Renovation. (Please note that Fravardegan is actually a period of 18 days, not 5 or 10!)
It is said that in our own small way we can help the Fravashis to bring about cosmic harmony and vitality by praying "Farmraot Ha" during these important Fravardegan days. By so doing, we participate in helping the Fravashis to promote "ushta" and add our mite towards fulfilling the aim of Frasho-Kereti.
Asha, as expounded in Yasna 20:
"Framraot Ha" specifies that the manthra contained in Ashem Vohu increases the power of Asha Vahishta; and further states that "Bagha Ashahe Vahishtahe", or Asha Vahishta (Ardibehesht), is the manthra of Ashem Vohu or Righteousness. Asha or Divine Righteousness indicates Purity (freedom from evil or "druj" which is seen as well as unseen), Truth, Harmony, Divine Justice and unconditional Obedience to His Will. These attributes make Asha the Immutable Law of Ahura Mazda. Without the Immutable Law of "Asha", Divine Order or Justice cannot be maintained; subsequently, the aim of Ashem Vohu, to achieve Purity cannot be fulfilled.
Asha Vahishta presides over the Creation of Fire. As Divine Energy, Asha pervades every atom of the Universe, transcending the space-time continuum. Since "matter" is essentially integrated with energy, and cannot, in itself, be destroyed, Asha alchemizes matter to spirit or energy through the Immutable Law of "ashoi" or Righteousness. Ashem Vohu and Asha Vahishta are like the two sides of a coin; Ashem Vohu is total purity and Asha Vahishta is the purifier of all things. Therefore, according to Yasna 20, Asha (Vahishta) and Ashoi (Ashem Vohu) are inseparably intermixed.
Vohu Mano, as explained in Yasna 20:
Framraot Ha proves the bogey of "freedom of choice" illogical and unsound. While explaining Vohu Mano, it expressly declares that "good" is not necessarily what we think of as "good" or "righteous". Our thinking is the outcome of a mind guided by the dual principles of good as well as evil. Vohu Mano, the Divine Consciousness of Ahura Mazda is not what we, as humans, have achieved as yet, it is what we are ultimately required to achieve through Asha! Vohu Mano, as an Ameshaspand, is united with, is One with, Ahura Mazda! If we possessed Vohu Mano, the Divine Consciousness of Ahura Mazda, we would be in direct communion with Ahura Mazda and we will become Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent! We would become Yazads! Vohu Mano, commonly translated as the "good mind", an adjective, is not indicative of Vohu Mano, the Ameshaspand, or Divine Consciousness of Ahura Mazda. Rather, the reference to "good mind" is indicative of an adjective used to indicate a mind deliberately disciplined to reflect ethical values. Very often, the proper noun: Vohu Mano and the adjective: "vohu mano", the "good mind" are confused.
The very purpose of Creation, of Life, is to burn or alchemize through Asha, the dross created by "angre mainyu" in the human mind. That evil "seeds" exist in human mind is proven through the exposition of Ardibehesht Yasht and also by the utterance of "Kem-na Mazda" and "Hormazd Khodai" prayers wherein the devotee asks for protection against evil tendencies and wishes to renounce evil thoughts. "Avaso-khshathremcha" means "personal whims". These words appearing in Yasna 20 ("Framraot Ha"), commenting on the third line of Ashem Vohu, in context to a "righteous" person, held to be so by other persons, indicates that righteousness does not reflect the thoughts, words and deeds that are based on personal whims of any "righteous" person! (Khordeh Avesta-ba-Maeni, Kangaji, p. 137.) Rather, righteousness is defined by one whose mind reflects the Dwelling of Vohu Mano, suggesting Prophets and Sages alone, the spiritually perfected ones, who have communed with the Divine and whose mind reflect Divine Consciousness. We, ordinary humans, are not spiritually advanced to commune with the Divine because our spiritual senses are not developed yet; therefore, we may not always be wise in our judgement to decide what is truly righteous. Our "good mind" reflects the decision of the moment alone. If mind were truly and unfailingly righteous, always, it would not be imprisoned in flesh, learning the lessons of life! Yasna 20, therefore, cautions us not to act according to personal whims. "Rights" involve responsibilities! Our human mind is trapped within the dual mentalities of good and evil, between Spenta-Mainyu and Angre-Mainyu. We are not yet spiritually perfected and whilst struggling between the dual mentalities are prone to err in our thoughts, words and deeds.
Further, the fact that our fallible mind is not yet the dwelling place of Vohu Mano (Ahura Mazda's Divine Consciousness), is illustrated by the words "pairi jasai" (yasna 28.2), and "pairi jassat" (yasna 43.7). "Pairi" means surrounding, encircling; "jasai" and "jassat" mean uniting with, entering, or reaching, with reference to Vohu Mano. These words unequivocally prove that Vohu Mano (Righteousness) is outside the bounds of fallible mind; we invite Him to enter our mind, so we may, ultimately, reach Ahura Mazda. "As Divine indeed, O Mazda, have I recognized Thee, O Ahura, when Vohu Mano entered within me, when through YOUR teaching I first grew wise" (yasna 43.11).
To sum up, Yasna 20 establishes that Vohu Mano is Divine Consciousness; it is Spiritual Wisdom. It has naught to do with whims or petty judgements in day-to-day mundane decisions. There is a difference between Vohu Mano, the Holy Ameshaspand, and the "good mind" of a mere mortal. We are required to heed our conscience and act righteously in every thought, word, and action committed in order to progress spiritually. However, the mind which is trapped within the two coeval dualities is not capable of always choosing what is spiritually correct. Yasna 20 cautions us to take heed that we do not act according to our own whims and fancies; do not become "deformers" of our religion through unwise desires but obey and follow what is Divinely Revealed!
Ushta, as described in Yasna 20:
"Ushta" is synonymous with Divine Ecstasy, or Spirituality. "Ushta", commonly translated as "happiness", does not, in any way, refer to material prosperity. "Ushta" is derived from "oos" meaning "to burn". This "burning" has naught to do with suffering of any kind (which is the opposite of being happy). It signifies a mystic process of spiritual yearning, of selfless dedication, to transform the body of flesh into "tanpasin" or body of "glow"; a body "burning" or "shining" as radiant as the Spirit, as shiny as the heavenly luminaries. It reflects the yearning of the soul to transform, to renovate the body of flesh to spirit or energy, in order to merge with its parent, the Fravashi. This is the everlasting "ushta" when Divine Union of the physical with the spiritual is achieved.
True, everlasting "ushta" is attained only by following the prescribed Path of Asha (Ahura Mazda's Immutable Law), and implicitly obeying Vohu Mano (Ahura Mazda's Divine Consciousness). Ashem Vohu teaches that righteousness enters the mind of those who serve Ahura Mazda through selfless dedication to His Fundamental Law of Ashoi. "Righteousness is best for him who acts for the sake of righteousness, to make others tread the Path". True "Ushta" is attained when Vohu Mano (Pure, Divine Consciousness) enters the mind and through Asha Vahishta (Divine Energy), the spiritual state is regained after matter is transformed to spirit or energy. Then, Frasho-Kereti is attained and unity with the Divine is ultimately reached. Yasna 20 indicates that in a mystic sense, it is the separation from Ahura Mazda that prevents real "ushta"; conversely, merging with Him gives immortal bliss or spiritual ecstasy attainable through Asha, Ashoi and Vohu Mano.
One can never "study" spirituality through books; neither can esotericism be explained through words. Manthra, besides resonance, embody esoteric teachings. There are levels upon levels of mystic meanings interwoven in each manthra. The effect created by the utterance of manthra is spiritual. It has the ability to open the inner door of our soul to link with the spiritual world. By reciting the manthra of "Framraot Ha", we not only benefit our soul through manthra-recitation; we consciously reaffirm righteousness, pledging to uphold the tenets of Asha and Vohu Mano to transmute ignorance of spiritual laws to wise compliance to righteousness. By uttering the manthra of "Framraot Ha", we assert righteousness since words are vocalization of thought. By thinking righteous thoughts, we utter righteous words; and the utterance of a word is the performance of an ensuing deed. Benevolent actions reflect good thoughts and words that precede the honorable deed. It follows that through prayers, through the recitation of manthra, we help the Fravashis to spread "ushta" or spiritual health and happiness in this erring, suffering, world. To attain to spiritual perfection and immortality, Ashem Vohu is the best manthra. To practice the teachings as elaborated in Ashem Vohu means "Framraot", indicating the devotee has heard and put into practice the teachings, thereby attaining some measure of righteousness, "Ashem Vohu Vahishtem Asti".
"Framraot Ha" may be prayed every day. Due to time constraints as a result of our life-style, if unable to recite daily, the Avesta recommends that it should be prayed at least during the "panj-e keh" days (the last 5 days of Asfandarmad mah). These last 5 days of Asfandarmad mah are most relevant for reciting the "Framraot Ha" because although the year begins with mah Fravardin, it ends with Asfandarmad or Spenta Armaity. This is so because Creation began with the Fravashis and will eventually end, or merge with Ahura Mazda, at Frasho-Kereti, when the Earth, under the domain of Spenta Armaity, will regain its original spiritual state. Till the last soul attains to spiritual perfection, Spenta Armaity will sustain this Earth; therefore, Asfandarmad is the last mah. This message of self-sacrifice and devotion to Ahura's Will to bring about Frasho-Kereti, is the highest righteousness! Spenta Armaity or Asfandarmad puts into practice "Framraot" or fulfillment of Ahura Mazda's Dictate!
Whatever is expressed here is through the teachings of Ilm-e Kshnoom. These teachings appear in the Frashogard Memorial Volume, Volume 30, published by the Parsi Vegetarian & Temperance Society. Dr. Faramroze Chiniwalla has written the translation as well the explanation of the Fravardin Yasht. I have referred to Dr. Chiniwalla's exposition of the Fravardin Yasht as well as Framraot-no Ha and have also referred to Kangaji's explanation of Framraot-no Ha from Avesta Ba Maeni.
By Pervin Mistry.
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