Behram Yasht is the Avestan text of invocation for Behram Yazad and Ama Yazad. Before going to the text, we shall learn about Behram Yazad to whom it is dedicated.
Behram Yazad: Behram Yazad presides over success, victory and triumph, over external enemies, as well as over internal vices. He bestows courage and confidence to people working for a righteous cause. He is also known by his epithets Fattehmand, Perojgar and dushman jadaar all of which mean “victorious/smiter of enemies.” He is a Hamkar (co-worker) of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand.
The word Behram comes from the Avestan word verethraghna which means “success, victory.” The word is cognate with the Sanskrit word shatrughna and has the same meaning as the Gujarati word mushkel āsān (verethra = mushkel + ghna=asan) which means “reliever of troubles and difficulties.” He may be compared to Ganesha the ishta devta (chief God) of the Hindus, whose epithet Vighna-harta is very similar to Behram Yazad’s epithet dushman jadaar.
Behram Yazad’s co-workers are Ama and Vanainti. In Jasa Me Avanghe Mazda amahe hutashtahe prayer we remember Behram Yazad along with his two associate Yazads Ama and Vanaiti which literally mean “courage” and “ascendancy” respectively. In the khshnuman (invocation ) to Behram Yazad, all the three divine beings are remembered together. Behram Yazad’s chief opponent is Vyambur daeva.
Among Zoroastrians there is a belief that a savior (Saoshyant) would come to deliver people around the end of Time. One of the names by which the promised savior is referred to is Behram Varzavand. The words Behram and Varzavand are Pazand forms of the adjectives used for saoshyant, the avesta name of the savior amavantem (varzavnad) verethraghnem (Behram).
Behram Yazad is also associated with Travel. In that context, he is referred to as Rāgh-dast or Panth Yazad. He is invoked before departing on a voyage or a journey.
Behram Yazad was very popular in Iran during Sasanian and post Sasanian times:
* In the last paragraph of Doa Nam Setayashne, Behram Yazad is remembered immediately after Dadar Hormazd.
* The practice of establishing a special fire dedicated to Behram Yazad – the Atash Behram –was popular during Sasanian times. As a mark of gratitude for a success or victory an Atash Behram, was established to honour Behram Yazad. Several Atash Behrams were built in Sasanian Iran to mark the victory of kings.
* Five Emperors in the Sasanian period were named after Behram Yazad. They are: Bahram I (272-275); Bahram II (275-292); Bahram III (292-293); Bahram IV also known as Kermanshah (388-399) and Bahram V also referred to as Bahramgur and equated to Rustam Pahelvan by Firdausi (420-440).
* The General who rebelled against Khushru Purviz and his father Hormuz IV during the Sasanian period was named Behram Chobin.
* Behram was also the name of the prince of last Sasanian emperor Yazdegard III, who after the death of his father went to Rome to seek help to re-conquer the empire from the Arabs, but did not succeed.
An important function of Behram Yazad is healing (baeshazem). He helps overcome Fever and Headache. Behram Yasht helps relieve chronic headaches. When the head ache is cured, a needy person should be helped.
Atash Behram: The first Atash Behram in India was built by our ancestors to thank Behram Yazad after they were miraculously saved from a sea-storm while traveling by sea from Diu to Sanjan. Behram Yazad is referred to as baro-khareno “carrier of divine energy” and the main function of an Atash Behram is to store and distribute the divine energy of Ahura Mazda.
In Iran there are several shrines dedicated to Behram Yazad, especially in Tehran and Yazd. In India we do not have a tradition of having shrines for divine beings.
Behram Yasht is the invocation of Behram Yazad and Ama Yazad. It has characteristics of a larger Yasht. It is popular among Zoroastrians. It has 22 kardas with common introductions and refrains. It starts with these words:
Verethraghnem ahura-dhaatem yazamaide. Peresat zarathushtro ahurem mazdam, ahura mazda mainyo spenishta daatare gaethanaam astvaitinām ashaaum, ko asti mainyavanaam yazatanaam zyotemo?Aat mraot ahuro mazdaao, verethraghno ahuradhaato, spitama Zarathushtra … vohu khvareno mazda-dhaatem, barat khareno mazdadhaatem baeshazem uta amemcha.
“We venerate Behram Yazad created by Ahura. Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda, “Oh Ahura Mazda spirit most beneficent, creator of the material world. O holy one! Who is the best helper in times of trouble, among spiritual Yazatas? Then Ahura Mazda replied, Victorious Behram Yazad, created by me, Oh Spitama Zarathushtra, who gives higher energy, divine energy, health and courage to those who remember him.”
Behram Yazad comes along with Ama Yazad to help people who invoke him. He assumes either of the following 10 forms, mentioned in Kardas I to X of the Behram Yasht, while coming to their aid:
- A bull with golden horns (Ama Yazad sits on the horns).
- A white horse with a golden caparison (Ama Yazad sits on the forehead).
- Camel with a piercing eyesight.
- Aggressive sharp-toothed boar.
- Handsome youth of fifteen years.
- Swift, high flying and strong bird Varehgna, comes at the time of dawn.
- Wild ram with bent horns.
- A buck (male deer) with sharp horns.
- A heroic man carrying a sword.
Being a larger Yasht the Kardas are long and repetitive. Hence they have been paraphrased here. Here is a specimen of a complete translation of Kardeh 21st :
“We venerate Verethraghna created by Mazda, who breaks the flanks of the hostile army, who cuts the flanks, who drives away the flanks, who shakes the flanks, these flanks he breaks, these flanks he cuts, these flanks he drives away, these flanks he shakes, he Verethraghna created by Mazda, the flanks of the demons, of the wicked ones, of sorcerers and witches and of the oppressive Kavis and karapans.”
The rest of the Kardehs are paraphrased here:
11-13. Behram Yazad helped Zarathushtra. He was given a boon of strength, health, happiness and vision as sharp as that of the Kara fish which can see a hair in the deepest river, that of a horse which can see a hair in the darkest night (K.12) and that of a vulture which can see a small piece of flesh from greatest of heights (K.13).
- The feathers of the Peshoperena bird, very helpful against injury and evil, were desired by Kava Usa (Kae Kaus) and possessed by Thraetona (Faridun).
- Behram Yazad protects the devotees with his Energy (Khoreh) just like the Saena bird protects with its wings.
- Behram Yazad protects those who invoke him. Behram Yazad’s prayer is strong, powerful, victorious and healing. (The paragraph which comes in the short Nirang of Behram Yazad “dva pātār ni pātār…..dva framarezen” is a part of this Karda.)
- The countries which venerate Behram Yazad are protected against hostile forces. Behram Yazad works with Meher, Rashne and Hom Yazads. The followers of Behram Yazad’s opponent Vyambur, practice rituals involving blood sacrifices.
- Behram Yazad works with Hom Yazad to prevail over enemies.
- The devotee seeks protection and victory from Behram Yazad.
- Behram Yazad helps those who look after and protect good animals.
- Behram Yazad helps to break through the strategic formations of the enemy army, which are meant to mislead soldiers.
- Behram Yazad punishes traitors by blocking off their senses.
There is a tradition of praying Behram Yasht continually for 40 days to seek the help of Behram Yazad to overcome problems and difficulties, especially connected with health, money, job or relationships.