The Fall of the Sassanian Empire
During the Sassanian Empire, the Zarathushti Religion was passing through a glorious phase and spirituality abounded. In those days, the Abedsahebs, saintly souls who were spiritually at a much higher level than ordinary folk, could move about freely in public. However, with their knowledge of astrology and their powers to foresee the future, they knew that Zarathushti rule over Iran was coming to a temporary stop for a few hundred years. To ensure the practice of the Religion through those dark times and to safeguard the religion for future generations, these Abeds accumulated all the implements and Aalaats (a consecrated implement or living object in which certain higher levels of spiritual energies are awakened) required for its practice and took refuge in retreats where no physical pollution or man could penetrate without their sanction. After the fall of the Sassanian Empire, the Zarathushtis fell into disarray. Thousands of them were massacred by the conquering Arabs. Murder, rape and arson were the order of the day. Hundreds of Atashbehrams and Agiaries were desecrated and our holy scriptures were destroyed. Many people fled to neighbouring countries, sought asylum, intermarried and integrated with the local population. No trace can be found of these people after all these years. To save their lives and property, many Zarathushtis chose to renounce their religion and converted to Islam, but many held out against their invaders and existed for almost another 100 years. But when these devout realised that they could no longer safely practise the religion of their forefathers, they consulted the Abedsahebs for deliverance. They were advised by these Abedsahebs to leave Iran and settle on the West Coast of India. This was the only way in which the noble Zarathushti Din would survive and flourish till such time when it would be re-established in Iran by the future Rainidar (Renovator of the Faith) Shah Behram Varzavand.
Dastur Neriosang Dhaval, an Ashavan (person who has successfully mastered the laws of Ashoi and has attained a certain level of spiritual exaltedness) of a very high grade, was chosen as the leader of the Anjuman which was to set sail for India. He had with him a devoted group of 8 other Ashavans, one of them being a lady Ashavan, by the name of Banoo Tanaaz. He was given the requisite training and guidance by the Abedsahebs of Demavand. His mission was to settle his flock on the shores of India, create a new PAV MAHAL (an invisible spiritual institution which forms the base for creation of other institutions like Atashbehrams) in India and establish Iranshah (because of the exalted stature and the absence of a Zarathushti Monarch in Iran, this Holy Fire was bestowed with the status of a Monarch.).
Consecration of Iranshah
It was indeed a feat to transport the Aalaats required for the consecration of Iranshah as Aalaats lose their spiritual strength if carried over water. One of the Ashavans was constantly seated at the front of the ship carrying the Aalaats, reciting our sacred Manthra and drawing Kash (magnetic circuits) on the water before the ship so that the water became temporarily still. This group of about 1,200 Zarathushti men, women and children landed on the shores of India at Diu and were resident there for about 19 years before moving on to Sanjan. They later settled in Sanjan with the permission of Jadiv Rana, the local ruler, and commenced the procedure for consecration and enthronement of Iranshah.
After his enthronement, Iranshah stayed in Sanjan for almost 300 years Lay Zarathushtis were not allowed to go near Iranshah. Only those Zarathushtis who were practitioners of Ashoi were allowed near him. The Koh in which he was enthroned was dark and the entrance was low so that the officiating Dastur had to bend his head in reverence before entering.
The Ashavans had decreed that Iranshah should not be moved from his place in Sanjan to keep his spiritual prowess intact. However, after about 300 years, no Ashavan existed in India and the guardians of Iranshah were of the status of Dregu Mard i.e. a few steps lower in spiritual stature than the Ashavans but ofcourse, much higher than us present day Zarathushtis. At one time, when the Muslim invasion was on and the attacking forces were very close, the priests guarding Iranshah panicked and in order to safeguard him, they shifted him from Sanjan to the caves of Bahrot. Iranshah stayed in Bahrot for 12 years after which he was shifted to Vansda, Navsari and finally settled in Udvada since the 18th century. Using the Iranshah Fire as the focal point, the other Atashbehrams and Agiaries were consecrated in India. Thus, there exists a continuous link between all the consecrated fires in India and Iranshah and through him with the exalted Atashbehramsaheb of Demavand Koh.
Facts about Fire
Worship of Fire is one of the seven pillars of the Zarathushti Deen and the community owes a debt of gratitude to the late Ustadsaheb Behramshah N Shroff, who had the good fortune of studying the fascinating knowledge of the Zarathushti Religion (also known as Ilm-e-Khshnoom) under the benevolent guidance of the holy Saheb Dilans of Demavand Koh who are the custodians of this knowledge, and thus was able to throw a great deal of light on the truths in nature about the existence of fire energies and other matters relating to the status of our Padshah Sahebs, their consecration procedures, their links with other fire energies on various planes in nature and their relationships with other spiritual institutions like the Dokhmas.
Ilm-e-Khshnoom explains that an Atash Padshah is not just the physical fire that we see before us in the censure but a living and conscious entity who is in tune with the fire energies which exist in the Minoi world. He has a yazatic conscience, divine wisdom and the Staotic vibrations of Sraosh Yazad surround him at all times. He has the capacity to receive the beneficial forces of Asare Roshni (the divine energy from the white side of Nature) and combat and minimise the malefic effects of Asare Tariki (the evil currents emanating from the dark forces in Nature). He is a Rathestar par excellence. He is also able to communicate the thoughts of devotees to Dadar Ahura Mazda himself and in turn communicate Dadar's message through his blessings. He is the divine Lord of our Karma and is responsible for ensuring blessings for our good deeds and retribution for our misdeeds.
However, due to the principle of Duality, the forces of Gashak (dark elements) exist in Nature. This attack of the force of Gashak on the Padshahsaheb increases if we visit an Atashbehram/Agiary without a lawful Nahn. There are three pre-conditions for a worshipper to fulfill when he presents himself before a Padshah saheb. (a) He must have a Khoreh (aura) which is capable of attracting the currents of Asare Roshni, (b) the Vanthvo Frado (invisible magnetic currents emitted from a persons eyes which have a direct relationship with the vibrationary currents of the religion to which one belongs) emanating from his eyes must be of an exalted nature and (c) his Mithra (thoughts) should be clean.
Predictions of Ustadsaheb Behramshahji
Before his demise in 1927, Behramshahji had predicted many events which are gradually coming true. One such prediction was that many Agiaries and Atashbehrams would face closure and hardly one Dokhma would be functional in a rundown condition. All this is seen to be true today. So many Agiaries have been shut down and their Padshahs shifted. The Dokhmas are in an equally delicate state with the vultures having gradually disappeared, the people in authority having taken various wrong decisions thus causing more damage and controversy after controversy erupting about their future. The main reason for this downfall is that it is all but forgotten that these spiritual institutions are consecrated in nature and there are TALESAMS functioning in each of them. A Talesam is a place where benevolent Yazatic currents descend and are preserved.
The unfortunate state of affairs today
It is a common sight nowadays to see Zarathushtis flocking to Atashbehrams and Agiaries on certain days because they have heard by word-of-mouth that such and such Atash Padshah is known to grant some boon to his devotees especially if the worship is offered on certain days in certain Gehs. To place faith in our holy Padshahsahebs is the duty of every Zarathushti but what is objectionable is the manner in which the worshipper presents himself before the holy Padshah, treating him like some merchant with whom some bargain has to be cut and the emergence of a cultic ritual in these places of worship. Religious ignorance seems to be ruling the roost and it is very easy for people in this materialistic world to get swayed by disinformation. The present day Zarathushtis also have a penchant for running to Iranshah at the drop of a hat - some making it a weekend picnic place and some going on every Behram Roj. Many do not even bother to bathe before steeping into the precincts of Iranshah claiming that they have bathed before their departure from Mumbai. Going before Iranshah in a physically unclean condition results in taking with us all the impurities and putridities of the outside world before his holy presence and imperiling his sanctified stature. This is a CARDINAL SIN.
Our Holy Atashpadshah Iranshah is presently in a very delicate stage having completed about 1200 years of his lifespan. If we as a community are to survive these perilious times till the advent of Shah Behram Varzavand, we must make an all out effort to safeguard and maintain the spiritually exalted condition of Iranshah. Implicit faith in him is a MUST. But beyond just faith, we as a community must make a disciplined effort to create the right conditions for his survival in the near future. Given the way in which most of us lead our daily lives without a thought for the observance of the daily spiritual Tarikats and without observing the rules of Druj-Parhezi (abstinence from pollution), it is best that we keep our distance from Iranshah. The practice of walking in and out of Iranshah at frequent intervals as if it were a railway station must be stopped. It is not suggested that we stop going to Udvada, but we must try not to crowd around his Koh all the time. It would be in order to pray from the place where we presently remove our footwear in the main hall of Iranshah. It would be equally fine if people just stood in the Dadgah premises and offered worship to Iranshah. It is extremely important for devotees to observe strict rules of physical cleanliness. Taking a Nahn before stepping into Iranshah is a necessity. However, as that is not always feasible, application of Taro (Gaomez - fresh urine of Varasiaji or a cow) all over the body before bathing is a necessity. Thereafter, we must wash ourselves thoroughly from head to toe. Next, we must put on freshly washed clothes preferably white which should be worn exclusively to Iranshah.
It is very commendable to pray Atash Niyaish 9 times before Iranshah, reciting the "Usmoi Ujareshwa" para 3 times in each Niyaish. If that is not possible, it would be very beneficial to pray Atash Niyaish at least 3 times. A little effort from our end will go a long way in preserving our holy fire till the advent of Shah Varzavand. It is decreed that after the advent of Shah Varzavand, Iranshah will be rejuvenated and enthroned in our ancient motherland Iran.
Incidentally, during his stay in Demavand Koh, Ustadsaheb Behramshahji was allowed by the Magav Sahebs to have a faraway glimpse of their holy Atashbehram Padshah and that too after taking 3 Bareshnooms of 9 nights each. In fact, Ustadsaheb never went before Iranshah all his life saying that his Khoreh was too polluted for him to go before someone as exalted as Iranshah
- Hanoz M. Mistry
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