KEM NA MAZDA- Invoking Dadar Ahura Mazda’s Protection (Parsi Times 18-2-2017)

 

Kem Na Mazda is not just a prayer to invoke Dadar Ahura Mazda’s protection and compassion; it is a powerful Nirang which can be recited as a stand alone prayer. It is next only to the Yatha Ahu vairyo in terms of power of protection. Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia enlightens us about the importance of this prayer.

Parsi Times (P.T.) Sir, how has Kem Na Mazda come to be the third prayer in the Pak Khordeh Avesta?

Ramiyar Karanjia (RK): In a way, Kem na Mazda is the first prayer, as it comes immediately after Yatha ahu vairyo and ashem vohu, two of the mighty mystic Mantras. It is the first prayer with which our Kasti ritual begins.

PT: What is the literal meaning of Kem Na Mazda?

RK: In the Kem Na Mazda prayer, Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda: Who will give me and my followers protection  when evils look at me with the intention to hurt, except Thy Fire (divine Energy) and Mind (Consciousness), by whose actions the progress of the world takes place. Please reveal to me the religious knowledge associated with that. Which are Your words for protection which smites the enemy, and which are for victory and protection.  Do You show me a spiritual teacher who can lead me to knowledge of material and spiritual worlds, so that Divine Guidance (Sraosha) can come through Higher Consciousness (Vohu Manah). Such wisdom comes only to those unto whom Mazda wishes and considers deserving. Oh Mazda and Spenta Armaiti! Protect us from pain andinjury. Flee Oh! Evil; Flee Oh! Origin of evil; Flee Oh! Acts sown by evil; Flee Oh! Acts increased by evil; Flee away Oh Evil, run away Oh Evil, Flee far away Oh Evil towards the North. Do not make the orderly material world chaotic and vulnerable to destruction.  Homage unto Armaiti, who is giver of prosperity.

PT Are Divine vibrations generated when we recite Kem Na Mazda?

RK: Divine vibrations are created by the chanting of any of our Manthravani prayers. Kem na Mazda is one of the most powerful prayer in this sense. 65% of it is taken from the Gathas and 35% from the Vendidad. Hence it can be considered one of the most powerful prayers.

PT: How do we recognize and acknowledge the protecting power of this prayer?

RK: When we read the meaning of the prayer we will understand that Kem na Mazda talks about the different types of protections. Firstly protection with divine energy, then protection with divine wisdom and our own mind. Thereafter protection through the help of a teacher who can guide us on the path of true knowledge and help us get self realisation. This is the protection from ignorance. Finally protection from Nasu that is physical contagion and impurities. Protection is sought through Spenta Armaiti, mother earth, who absorbs all the organic unwanted things. Even the Manthric, performative effect of this prayer is to give protection. That is, just by reciting the prayer we get protection from unseen evils.

P.T.  Why is it essential to pray Kem Na Mazda before untying the Kusti before bathing and before performing the Kusti ritual – be it in the house, Fire Temple, the Tower of Silence or any other holy place?

RK: We have the Sadra and Kasti on our body 24 hours of the day which protects us from seen and unseen evils. However, when we do the kasti ritual, we untie and re tie the Kasti. In this process we have to remove the Kasti from our waist for a few minutes. Our religion considers it is so very essential to have both the Sadra and the Kasti on our body all the time, that even for the couple of minutes that we are without the Kasti when doing the Kasti ritual, we have to recite the Kem na Mazda prayer so that it can protect us when we are without the Kasti.

PT: Why is Kem Na Mazda included in the Sarosh Baj and in many other prayers?

RK: Kem na Mazda is a prayer for protection. It is included in the Sarosh Baj, as one of the purposes of this prayer is protection.

PT: Which other prayers or rituals include Kem Na Mazda?

RK: Kem Na Mazda is a part of the Hoshbam prayer. It is also recited in the Nahvani baj, Paydast ni baj, nahan ritual, Bareshnum ritual, Sackar ritual, Geh- sarna ritual and Vendidad ritual. Even the Nase-salars recite it while handling the corpse and depositing it in the Dakhma.

 

P.T. How can we practically apply the tenets and principles of the Kem Na Mazda to live as a righteous Zoroastrian?

RK: As gleaned from the translation of the prayer, we come across the following tenets and teachings which we can apply in our lives:

  1. Ahura Mazda’s energy (Khoreh) and His wisdom protects us from evil. (thwahmāt āthrascha mananghaschā)
  2. Ahura Mazda’s energy (Khoreh) and His wisdom helps the Universe to progress (ashem thraoshtā Ahurā)
  3. The words of prayers give us the best protection (thwā poi senghā)
  4. Adequate knowledge of the material and spiritual worlds from a teacher protects us from the harm that comes on account of ignorance (dām ahumbish ratum chizdi )
  5. The above knowledge will help the coming of Sarosh Yazad and Bahman Ameshaspand who bring us wisdom and guidance (at hoi vohu seraosho jantu mananghā) .
  6. After getting divine help the grace and decision of Ahura Mazda is necessary for us to be wise (Mazdā ahmāi yahmāi vashi kahmāichit)
  7. We have to make a strong commitment and mental preparation to keep away from evil in all its forms (Nase daevi drukhsh)
  8. The place of Evil is towards the North (apakhedhre apa-nasyehe).
  9. We pay homage to Mother earth for protecting us against tons of organic decay and decomposition by absorbing it within herself (Nemaschā yā Ārmaitish izhāchā).

PT: What does ‘Mavaite Paayum Dadat’ mean? Why do we recite ‘Sarosh Asho Jantu Manangha’?

RK: ‘Mavaite Paayum Dadat’ means protect me and my disciples. ‘Sarosh Asho Jantu Manangha’ means “May Sarosh Yazad and Bahman Ameshaspand come.

PT: Which are the other important Lines in the prayer? Please explain their significance.

RK: Other important lines and phrases in the prayer are mentioned in the answer above.

P.T. The prayer ends by praying ‘Nemascha Ya Armaitish Izaachaa.’  Please explain the meaning and why we pray this line thrice.

RK: This beautiful line is from the Spetomad Gatha. It means “Homage unto Armaiti who is giver of prosperity.” Here Armaiti refers to Spenta Armaiti, that is Spandarmad Ameshaspand who presides over mother earth. By reciting this line we are thanking mother earth for her tolerance and beneficence on account of which we are able to live happily on this earth. That is why we touch the earth while saying this line. It is not necessary to recite this line thrice in the Kasti prayers.

Dear Readers, were we to print the translation of the Kem Na Mazda prayer verbatim, it would not serve as a springboard of religious fervour. The more beneficial way to pray is by feeling and understanding the prayers. So make more headway in your life by practicing its power and strength.

 

 

 

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What is Naso or Nasu? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 12 & 19-2-17)

  1. The Parsi Gujarati word Naso, derived from Avesta word nasu, means any dead, decomposing, putrefying matter emanating from or being a part of a human being. After death, the entire human body begins to decompose, and in Zoroastrian religion it is considered the biggest naso which is to be properly and ritually disposed. It is further stated that a demon of putrefaction called the ‘Druj-e-nasu’ attacks naso. Men have to keep away from and safeguard themselves from naso as far as possible.

2. The term naso is applied to dead, decomposing, putrefying matter emanating only from humans, since humans are conscious beings who do good and fight evil. Since dogs also intuitively fight evil, druj-e-nasu even attacks dogs after death. From this view point the putrefaction that arises out of animals (except dogs) or plants cannot be considered naso.

3.The text of the Vendidad is chiefly about laws to deal with impurities arising out of Naso. It has elaborate injunctions to safeguard mankind from the harms arising out of the attack of druj-e-nasu on the corpse.  The Patet Pashemani prayer mentions repentance for one who has come in contact with different types of naso.

  1. In Zoroastrian after death rituals, in order that the naso is fortified, contained and does not spread, a kash that is “a furrow” is made around the corpse with iron nails along with chanting of prayers. Fire is to be kept burning, fragrance has to be kept over it and prayers are to be chanted to limit the ill effects of the naso.
  2. In Zoroastrian tradition, the term naso is applied to a dead thing when it is fresh or wet. In Gujarati it is known as ‘lilo naso.’ The term her naso is applied to dried naso, which is known in gujarati as ‘suko naso.’ Only fresh naso is potent. After a few months of drying, the wet naso becomes dry and loses most of its power to putrefy. After a year the naso, if exposed to sunlight, becomes completely dry and loses its physical and hence spiritual power to putrefy.
  3. The druj-e-nasu has the tendency to attack the living. Since it always attacks at the centre, all actions dealing with naso arising out of a corpse have to be done in a pair with a ‘paevand’, that is, connection between two persons, whether they are priests, lay men or corpse-bearers. If anybody comes in direct contact with a corpse after the Sachkar, he is said to be ‘riman’, that is, “impure”. Such a man can be made ritually pure by a nahan. Direct defilement from naso is called ‘hamrit’ and indirect defilement is called ‘patrit.’
  4. The druj-e-nasu become more active when the corpse is moved. That is why mourners turn away their face when the corpse is lifted in the midst of the Geh-sarna prayer. For the same reason mourners are expected to fortify themselves with baaj prayers and walk in pairs when they follow the corpse during the Paaidast.
  5. Any part of human body, once it is severed from the living body, becomes naso. Hair and nail are considered alive as long as they are attached to the body, though they do not constitute living tissues. However, after they are cut they too are considered naso. It is necessary to dispose cut hair and pared nails, properly, and not leave them scattered in the house. In Zoroastrian tradition it is mandatory to take a bath after cutting hair (which includes shaving) and paring nails. This practice is beneficial also from a hygienic view-point.

          9. Dokhmenashini and Khurshed-nagirashni – the mode of disposal of death of                         Zoroastrians has been designed in such a way that the naso emanating from the                     corpse does the least harm to other humans and creations like fire, earth, water,                     animals and plants.

What is the Visparad? (TMY – Jame Jamshed 5-2-17)

  1. The Yasna, the Vsparad and the Vendidad are the names of three main texts in the Avestan language which have survived till the present times. Inner rituals (pāv-mahel ni kryā) in which these texts are recited are also known by the same names.
  2. The text of Visparad has 23 chapters. In the ritual of Visparad, this text is recited along with the text of the 72 chapters of the Yasna. When the Vendidad ritual is performed, the text of Visparad is also recited in it along with the texts of Yasna and Vendidad.
  3. The word Visparad is derived from the Avesta words vispe ratavo which means “All the lords”. These ‘lords’ are divine beings of a special class called Ratus, who especially preside over time and season.
  4. The Visparad ritual is performed much less frequently compared to other inner rituals. It is not performed daily, but has to be performed only at specific occasions.
  5. It can be performed either on behalf of the dead or for the living on the following occasions: a. On the last day of the Navar ceremony, b. On the last day of the Geti kharid ceremony, c. On the 6 Gahambars of the year, since Gahambars also pertain to time and seasons.

Who was Dastur Azar Kaiwan? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 22 & 29-1-17)

  1. Dastur Azar Kaiwan, born in 1533 at Ishtakhra in Shiraz, was the leader of a group of about 12 priests and lay men who came from Iran and eventually settled in North India at Patna, between 1570 to 1620. They are first believed to have come to Surat, from there they went to Navsari and then to Patna. They also visited Kashmir and Agra. Azar Kaiwan passed away in Patna in 1618 at the age of eighty five. His last resting place is at Azimabad village near Patna. Though early Persian works don’t call him a Dastur, later Gujarati sources refer to him as a Dastur. Some aspects of his life are not very clearly known and understood.
  2. He is referred to as a baste-kushtiyan. Some sources claim that he had a son, but this seems to be an error. He never seemed to have married as he was a mystic and a recluse. He is regarded as the last chief of the Abadan group. His father was Gushtasp whose descent is traced from the first Peshdadian king Gayomard, through kings Jamshed and Faridun. His mother Shirin is said to have descended from the line of Sasanian king Noshirwan Adel. He had proclivity towards mysticism and spirituality right since childhood. He spent the initial 28 years of his life in strict seclusion. He was himself a strict vegetarian and a proponent of vegetarian diet. He instructed his followers to be kind to animals.
  3. The purpose of the visit of Azar Kaiwan and his disciples to Patna is not clear. All were mystics who probably came to visit Akbar’s court which had many mystics at that time. They were proponents of riazat, that is abstinence and austerities. Their philosophy leans a lot towards mysticism and occultism. They believed that they were continually in communion with God and received instructions from God and other great souls. They kept their practices a secret and did not mingle with people. They believed that each should follow his own religion. Some of Azar Kaiwan’s teachings, like those of the transmigration of souls, asceticism, austerities, mortification, fasting, abstinence, praise for unmarried life and celibacy do not agree with Zoroastrian teachings.
  4. Azar Kaiwan and his disciples had amazing powers born out of their practices. They ate very little food. Azar Kaiwan ate just about 50 grains of food and his disciples less than 500 grains. They seemed to possess some miraculous powers like changing themselves to stones or animals, making their souls leave the body at will, reading the thoughts of others, stopping breathing for hours, being sleepless and without food for days, understanding the language of animals and plants, walking over water, fire and air, and making themselves invisible.
  5. The Persian books Dabistan and Desatir tells us about Azar Kaiwan, his disciples and his philosophy. These books were brought to the notice of the people of Mumbai in mid 18th century. They are not considered authentic and reliable Zoroastrian writings as they do not wholly agree with Zoroastrian teachings. Books ascribed to Azar Kaewan and his immediate disciples are: Jashan-i-sadeh, Sarud-i-Mastan, Jam-i-Kaekhushru, Zardusht Afshar, Kheshtab and Zindeh Rud.
  6. It is believed that Dasturji Kukadaru considered himself connected to Dastur Azar Kaiwan and received divine guidance through him. It is also believed that Dastur Azar Kaiwan was an elevated soul initially staying in the inner circle in Demavand mountain and came out to the outside world inspite of being forbidden to do so.

8. The Persian aphorism Nist hasti bazuz yazdan is the most famous maxim attributed to           Dastur Azar Kaiwan. It literally means “Nothing exists apart from God.” In this short,           concise statement lies a great spiritual and mystical truth, that for mystical and                       spiritual people, nothing exists except for God, since they always live in communion             and communication with God. This maxim can also be understood as a reminder of                 the teaching that all creations are ultimately coming from God.