In Search of the Zoroastrians

200 short questions & answers: Part I

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1)What is Navjote?

Navjote is that ceremony in which a Zoroastrian child is invested with Sudreh and kusti.

2)What is the meaning of the word Navjote?

The word Navjote means ' a new initiate who offers prayers '.

3)Why has the child to undergo Naahn or sacred bath before the Navjote ceremony?

The child has to undergo sacred bath before Navjote ceremony for the sake of external purification.

4)Why is the child given Nirang or consecrated bull's urine to drink before the navjote ceremony?

The child is given Nirang to drink before the Navjote ceremony for the sake of internal internal purification.

5)Why is the child given a leaf of pomegranate tree to chew before the Navjote ceremony?

The child is given a leaf of pomegranate tree to chew before the navjote ceremony because the evergreen pomegranate tree reminds one of the immortality of soul.

6)Why does the priest initiating the child holds his hands while investing him with sacred girdle.

Its significance is that the priest transfers his own magnetism to the child, who is to be invested with spiritual strength together with the sacred shirt and the girdle.

7)What is the childs responsibility after Navjote?

After navjote the child enters a new phase of life which aims particularly at moral and spiritual uplift.

8)What confession does the child make at the navjote ceremony?

The child declares his faith openly to the assembly on the Mazdayasni religion.

9)What is Sudreh?

The word Sudreh means true or advantegeous path and constantly it reminds every Zoroastrian to tread this path and not to abandon it even in the midst of the most adverse circumstances.

10)Of what is Sudreh made?

Sudreh is made of white cambric because white represents purity and it is also the symbol of Mazdayasni religion (Meher Yast - 126)

11)What do the two parts of Sudreh signify?

The two parts of the Sudreh signify the material and the spiritual world.

12)What is the most important part of Sudreh?

The most important part of Sudreh is Kisseh i Kerfeh or bag of virtuous deeds and it signifies that man in the material world should fill this bag with virtuous deeds so that the future life would be secure.

13)Why should Sudreh be worn next to skin ?

Sudreh should be worn next to the skin because our body constantly gives off heat with other impurities from within and Sudreh absorbs them.

14)What is Kusti?

Kusti shows the direction where every Zoroastrian should aim at and that is the direction of Light and Truth.

15)Of what is Kusti made up of and why?

Kusti is made of lambs wool because lamb typifies innocence.

16)How is kusti made?

Kusti is first spun into 72 threads which are then woven into a kusti on a handloom.

17)Why is kusti tied in the middle of the body?

Tying kusti in the middle of the body signifies that a Zoroastrian should always put into practice the principle of moderation or golden mean in all his activities.

18)What does the 4 knots of the kusti signify?

The four knots of the kusti signify that: 

  1. Ahura Mazda is the only one unequalled
  2. The religion of Mazda worship is the word of Ahura Mazda
  3. Zarathustra is the prophet sent by Ahura Mazda and
  4. One must think good thoughts, speak good words and practice good deeds.

19)What does kusti symbolize?

Kusti serves as a permanent symbol of service to God.

20)Why should we wear sudreh & kusti?

Sudreh & kusti play a vital part in the development of an overall personality.

21)When did the custom of putting on kusti start?

It started from the time of king Jamshed of the Peshdadian dynasty and Zarathustra continued it. (Pahlavi Dadastan i Denik XXXVIII)

22)Is it proper for a Zoroastrian to move about without sudreh and kusti?

It is a sin for a Zoroastrian to move about without sudreh and kusti.

23)What should a Zoroastrian do before untying and tying kusti?

Before untying or tying kusti a Zoroastrian should wash thr external parts of the body. This is known as paadyaab.

24)What is the importance of fire in the zoroastrian religion?

Fire is the most excellent and the most useful of Gods creations.

25)What is fire called in the Avesta?

In Avesta fire is called the son of Ahura Mazda.

26)What should a Zoroastrian do rising up early in the morning?

A Zoroastrian risiing up early in the morning should put on clothes, wash hands, search  for fuel and enkindle the household fire. (vendidad 18-19)

27)Where should the fire be installed?

The fire should be installed at a proper place after performing certain ceremonies.

28)What are the three grades of fire amoung the Zorastrians?

The three grades of fire amoung the Zoroastrians are Atash Behram, Atash Adaran and Atash Dadgah.

29)How are the different grades of fire installed?

To install an Atash Behram sixteen different kinds of fire are required, for an Atash Adaran four and for Atash Dadgah only one fire is required. They are installed after performing some ceremonies which are the most elaborate in the case of an Atash Behram.

30)Who should tend the fire of an Atash Behram?

Befitting its exalted position fully qualified priests who have undergone the highest form of purificatory ritual (Barshnum) and observe Khub, that is, who perform the Yasna ceremony, can tend the fire of an Atash Behram.

31)Why do the Zoroastrians pray before fire?

When the Zoroastrians pray before the fire they offer their worship to Ahura Mazda through fire which is the symbol of Ahura Mazda.

32)What constitutes a sin against fire?

To burn dead, decomposing matter on fire is regarded as sin.

33)What are the objects of Zoroastrian rituals and ceremonies?

The first object of Zoroastrian rituals and ceremonies is to purify atmosphere with fire burning with incense, the second is to secure blessings of divine spirits, and the third is to express gratitude to Ahura Mazda for the seasonal bounties bestowed upon mankind.

34)What are the high ceremonies of the Zoroastrian religion?

These are mainly Yazashne, Visperad and Vandidad ceremonies.

35)By whom are these ceremonies performed?

These ceremonies are performed by those priests who have undergone Barshnum and are pure in body and soul.

36)Where are these ceremonies performed?

These ceremonies are performed in a specially reserved place in fire temples, called urves.

37)By what other names are these ceremonies known?

These ceremonies are also known as paav Mahal ceremonies. Paav means pure and Mahal means building.

38)What are the requisites for these ceremonies known?

The requisites for these ceremonies are derived from minerel, vegetable and animal kingdoms representing different creations.

39)What is the main object of Yazazne ceremony?

The main object of Yazashne ceremony is to show different creations are inter-related and work for mutual benifit and how man should be in tune with different creations represented by a variety of requisites in the ceremony.

40)What is the main part of Yazashne ceremony?

The main part of Yazashne ceremony is the pounding of Homa twigs and extracting Homa juice.

41)On what occasions is Visperad ceremony performed?

Visperad ceremony is performed at seasonal festivals (Gaahambars)

42)When is Vendidad ceremony performed?

Vendidad ceremony is performed at mid-night after 12 O clock because evil influences predominate especially in the dark at night.

43)What is Baaj?

Baaj is a religious prayer recited in honour of the divine spirits (Amesh Spentas and Yazatas) or the guardian spirits (Fravashis)

44)What is Afringaan?

Afringaan or prayer of blessing is a ceremony performed by two priests and sometimes even by a single priest with few requisites as fruits, flowers, water, milk and sandalwood.

45)What is Farokhshi?

Farokhshi is also a simple ceremony with the same requisites as those in Afringaan ceremony.

46)What is stum?

Stum is a prayer in praise of the guardian spirits (Fravashis)

47)What is Jashan?

Jashan is a prayer with ceremonial offerings performed by 2 priests with the attendance of other Zoroastrians who also pray.

48)Why are ceremonies after death neccessary?

Ceremonies after death are neccessary as they guard the soul of the deceased from evil influences because according to Zoroastrian teachings the soul of a person after death remains within precincts of this world for three nights (Fragments of Haadokht Nask chs II and III)

49)Why are ceremonies during three days after death performed in honour of Sraosha?

This is because the soul is clothed in a more tenous astral body and is under the guidance and protection of Sraosha who is the protector of men in both the worlds (Larger Srosh Yasht - 25) and the soul guides till its journey to the next world on the dawn of the fourth day.

50)Why are ceremonies performed for the souls of the dead after the dawn of the fourth day after death?

These ceremonies offer consolation to the soul of the dead in the spiritual world and they bless the living.

51)What are the Farvardegan or Muktad days?

These are the ten days at the end of the Zoroastrian calender year when the Guardian Spirits (Fravashis) move about freely in the material world expecting prayer and offerings from the living. (Farvadin Yasht 49,50)

52)By what name is the supreme god called in Zoroastrian religion?

The supreme god in the Zoroastrian religion is known as Ahura Mazda.

53)What does the word Ahura Mazda mean?

The word Ahura Mazda means 'Omniscient Lord'

54)How is Ahura Mazda potrayed in the Zoroastrian religion?

Ahura Mazda is potrayed in the Zoroastrian religion as the highest epitome of virtues (Yasna 1-1)

55)With what is the concept of Ahura Mazda associated?

The concept of Ahura Mazda is associated with light.

56)Can we see Ahura Mazda?

No we cannot see Ahura Mazda because He is the most spiritual or invisible (Yasna 4-7) and pervades the entire creation.

57)What is the meaning of Amesha Spenta?

Amesha Spenta means Bountiful Immortal.

58)How many Amesha Spentas are there and what do they signify?

Amesha Spenta are seven in all: Ahura Mazda, Vohumana, Asha Vahista, Khshathra Vairaya, Spenta Armaiti, Haurvataat and Ameretaat and they signify the attributes of Ahuara Mazda.

59)Over what creations do the Amesha Spenta Preside?

The Amesha Spentas preside over mankind, animals, fire, metals, earth, water and plants.

60)Does the theory of Amesha Spentas lead to the worship of many gods?

No, Amesha Spentas are by no means independent gods, but they are of the same thought, word and deed with Ahura Mazda who is said to be their father and preceptor (Fravardin Yasht -83), and who has created them all. (Hormuzd Yasht -25)


61)What is the meaning of Yazata.

Yazata means adorable one.

62)How many Yazatas are there and who do they signify?

The exact number of Yazatas cannot be specified and they are in rank next to Amesha Spentas.

63)How are Yazatas classified?

The Yazatas are classified as spiritual and material (Khurshed Nyaish-9) the former personifying some virtues and the latter presiding over material creations.

64)What is the meaning of Fravashi?.

Fravashi means a guardian spirit.

65)What do Fravashis signify?

Fravashis are a seperate class of divine entities which permeate all creations.

66)Has every human being has his Fravashi?

Yes, every human being has his Fravashi.

67)What is the difference between soul and Fravashi?

According to Zoroastrian Teachings a man's soul is accountable after death for all the deeds committed in the material world, while Fravashis function is to guide the soul, like a divine monitor, in the perilous sea of life.

68)How are Fravashis classified?

Fravashis are classified as those of the departed, of the living, and those of the unborn.

69)What is the function of the Fravashis as regards different creations?

Fravashis sustain the sky, the water, the earth, the cattle, develop physical organs of a child when it is conceived in the mother's womb (fravardin Yasht -86), energize life and are the prime source of motion.

70)What is the main occassion for the invocation of Fravashis?

Fravashis are mainly invoked during the during the Fravardegaan days, or the last ten days at the end of Zoroastrain calendar years.

71)What is Daeva and Druj?

Daeva and Druj are evil spirits which lead mankind astray from the path of rectitude.

72)In what different senses are the words Daeva and Druj used?

They are used in three different senses (i) Invisible evil spirits acting against Amesha Spentas and Yazatas, (ii) Thieves, robbers, tyrants, murderers and sinners referred to as Daeva and Druj, and (iii) Evil qualities in man like anger, jealously, avarice, lust etc. are also known as Daevas.

73)What is Druj-i-Nasush?

Germs which give rise to decomposition and disease are known as Druj-i-Nasush.

74)What is Daevaysni?

Daevayshni means worship of many gods and their idols.

75)What does Daevayasni consist of?

It consists of false beliefs and superstitions about true idea of divinity.

76)What are the types of Daevaysnis?

They are:

  1. Worshipping the forces of nature like thunder, lightening, storm as well as stones, trees and ferocious animals out of fear,
  2. Worshipping imaginary gods presiding over creations like sky, sun, moon, air, fire and water, making their idols and installing them in the temples.

77)What is Mazdayani?

Mazdayasni declares its belief in one omniscient lord-Ahura Mazda who creates, sustains, protects and administers the affairs of the universe through eternal laws.

78)Who first listened to the teachings of Ahura Mazda?

Gayomard, the first sovereign of the Peshdadian dynasty which ruled in ancient Iran, first listened to Ahura Mazda and embraced Mazdayasni religion.

79)Who after Gayomard put faith in Mazdayasni religion?

After him a long line of illustrious kings of Iran like Hosang, Tehmuras, Jamshed, Faredoon, Minocher, Kay kobad, Kay Kaus, Kay Lohrasp and a holy sage named Hom put faith in Mazdayashni religion and propagated its teachings amoung the Iranians resisting the power and influences of the Daevayashnis.

80)Who finally strengthened Mazdayashni religion?

Zarathushtra finally strengthened Mazdayashni religion and secured for it a firm foothold in Iran dealing a severe blow to Daevayashnis and image-worship.

81)What is Asha?

Asha signifies order and regularity in nature according to which all its activities like rising and setting of the sun, waxing and wanning of the moon, rise and fall of tides, the dawn, the day and night going their daily rounds and non stop seasonal changes take place.

82)What is Ashoi?

To put the principle of Asha observable in nuture in day-to-day life is called Ashoi.


83)What does Ashoi include?

It includes all the principal virtues, but specially it refers to purity which can be classified as physical purity and purity of soul.

84)Why has Zoroastrian religion stressed on purity?

It is said that purity is the best for man from birth and purity itself is Mazdayashni religion (Vendidad 5-21) because all round purity - physical, mental and that of environment leads to the uplift of the soul.

85)How is physical purity observed?

Physical purity is classified as external and internal the former consisting in keeping the body pure externally and the latter in taking proper nourishing food and observing temperance in eating habits.

86)How is the purity of soul observed?

The purity of soul is observed by keeping it from evil propensities like lust, anger, avarice, temptation, pride and jealousy which are most often called the six enemies of the soul.

87)What are the purificatory rituals enjoined by the zoroastrian religion?

These are mainly these: 1) Paadyaab 2) Barshnum, the last being the highest form of purification.

88)What is the fundamental teaching of the Zoroastrian religion?

The fundamental teaching of the Zoroastrian religion is Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta or good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

89)What is the most important of the triad according to Zoroastrian religion?

According to the Zoroastrian religion good thoughts is the most important of the triad because thoughts when expressed through mouth become words and when put into practice become actions.

90)How can we please Ahura Mazda?

We can please Ahura Mazda through virtuous deeds.

91)What does the Zoroastrian religion enjoin upon man?

To keep in readiness his hands, feet and intelligence to perform lawful, timely and good deeds.

92)What is the best type of prayer?

The best type of prayer is that which helps a person to improve his life physically, mentally and spritually and inspires him to serve the surrounding world to the best of his ability.

93)How should true prayers be offered?

True prayers should be offered with devotion, sincerity of heart and deep yearning for spiritual joy.

94)What purpose does prayer serve?

Prayer purifies heart, gives inner strength and self-confidence and leads to enlightenment.

95)What is Maanthra?

Maanthra are the holy spells of the Avesta which when properly recited produce a soothing effect on mind and body espicially on the former.

96)What is Tarikat?

Tarikat is an Arabic word which means religious injunctions to be observed in daily life.

97)How does Tarikat help man in his daily life?

Tarikat help man gain control over his mind and body and thus discipline his life rendering the mind receptive to noble ideas and impressions much in the same way as a blacksmith hammers a piece of iron to make it malleable.

98)What are some important Tarikats of the Zoroastrian religion?

They are i) to recite one Ashem Vohu while rising from bed early in the morning ii) to enkindle the household fire after arising from bed, iii) to wash the exposed parts of the body after answering natures call and untie & tie the kusti or the sacred girdle reciting the kusti prayer iv) to observe silence while eating meals and excreting waste matter from the body after reciting certain small prayers and v) to spare time for praying to God.

99)What purpose these Tarikats serve?

These Tarikats act as stepping-stones to true religious and moral life.

100)Why according to the the Zoroastrian religion, man is a unique creation of God?

Man is a unique creation of God because he can think and speak, so God has entrusted to him the Soverignity of time over creations for their management, by virtue of his skill and power of speech.

Continued in Part II

by Ervad Ratanshah R. Motafram

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