Farvardin – progress, learning and gratitude by Dr Karishma Koka
The following article has kindly been written for WZO by Dr Koka to help us understand the application of the concept of Farvandin.
Progress, Learning and Gratitude
The Fravardigan (the last 10 days of the year) and the first month of the year – Fravardin – highlight the importance of progress and our gratitude to the Fravashis. In the Ahunavaiti Gatha, Asho Zarathushtra requests Mazda in Yasna Ha 29.11 to help us now for complete progress ‘Mazdâ frâkhshnenê mazôi magâi’ .
The Avestan root word ‘Fra’ means to ‘go forth’ while ‘Frashmi’ means causing progress according to the dictionary by Ervad K. E. Kanga. In Yasna Ha 30.9 in the Ahunavaiti Gatha we pray to be like those who made this world prosperous/advance and to be helpers/supporters with righteousness of the leaders under the guidance of Ahura Mazda (atchâ tôi vaêm khyâmâ ýôi îm frashêm kerenâun ahûm Mazdåoschâ Ahuråonghô). This concept is then linked to a request that wisdom (chisti) that comes from the Daena (the Faith/conscience) may be established in the good mind.
Vohu Manah (Good Mind) is one of the key aspects of the Zarathushti Daena. In Yasna Ha 28.1 at the beginning of the Gathas Asho Zarathushtra directs us to use the Wisdom of the Good Mind (vangeush khratum manangho) to please the Soul of Creation. As I understand it Khratum is considered the combination of innate and acquired wisdom. Wisdom, Learning and progressing with gratitude are key elements of the path of Asho Zarathushtra’s teaching. In Neuroscience, the mind is considered the neural correlate of the brain which is key to learning and meta-cognition (learning how to learn). In Asho Zarathushtra, I see a great thought leader who has given us guidance for every aspect of life – especially the Spiritual aspect.
I also understand the guidance Asho Zarathushtra gives us – Prayer, internal reflection and good action are key to help us progress and further develop while reducing stress and giving us the capacity for to be adaptable to change. The first three Amesha Spentas guide us to use the Good Mind in line with asha (righteousness/Law of order) resulting in khshathrem (desirable strength and power for good).
In the Yatha Ahu Vairiyo prayer a similar idea is seen. We are pray ‘vangheush dazdaa manangho shaothenanam angheush mazdai’ – we are guided to take good action in accordance with Ahura Mazda – the Magnificent Wisdom (of life) (using the good mind in line with asha) and receive the gift of the good mind while building the khshatrem (i.e. dominion/desireable strength) of Ahura . Then, when the outcome of this is shared with those who need it (drigubyo) results in the ‘care-taker’ – the ‘vastarem’.
In the Zarathushti Daena we venerate Ahura Mazda through Fire which is called Aatarsh. The root word Atar indicates that which transforms. Energy transforms from one form to another. Knowledge together with a good mind transforms one’s thinking and can lead to wisdom which can transform challenge into opportunity for progress. To me this has significance in various contexts. In addition to khratum, we are taught that chisti is the knowledge of the Daena (the faith), while tushnamaitish is the quiet contemplation that enables us to continue our inner learning/reflection (Yasna ha 48.4). In the Ahunavaiti Gatha in Yasna 30.2, we are asked to use our bright intellect (sucha manangha) to process the best teachings/what we listen to and develop a belief of one’s choice (âvarenåo vîcithahyâ) individually for ourselves prior to the big event (para maze yaongho)….such that we are alert/wakeful for the learning that protects. To me this is a revelation – as these concepts link the mind, learning, mindfulness, knowledge, application before each circumstance – leading to progress.
The Avesta root word ‘Fra’ means to ‘go forth’ according to the dictionary by Ervad K. E. Kanga. In the Ushtavaiti Yasna Ha 47.1 we are guided that with Spenta mainyu (progressive beneficient mind/mentality) together with best thought, word and all righteousness and good action Ahura Mazda grants us completeness (haurvataat) and that which sustains/immortality (ameerataat) along with khshatraa (desired responsible strength for good) and armaiti (devotion and perfect mindedness). To me this is progress at the individual level that adds to bring about progress with balance at the collective level now and forever.
Words derived from ‘Fra’ feature in the Gathas and in the Avesta prayers. In the Vohukhshatra Gatha (Yasna Ha 51.3) Ahura Mazda is referred to by Asho Zarathushtra as the foremost guide (fradakhshta) of those who consider Ahura Mazda as their ‘sarente’ with ones deeds, words and righteousness and prayer with good mind (vangheush manangho), as per my understanding.
In Yasna Ha 34.15 Zarathushtra requests that His life be regenerated (ferashem) through the power of Ahura (khshatra Ahura) and in accordance with the will of Ahura. In Yasna Ha 44.1 Asho Zarathushtra refers to Ahura Mazda as a friend ‘fryaai’ saying it would be good if a friend like Ahura Mazda would teach a friend (frya) like Him. To me it is of interest that a well-wisher who inspires one is a ‘frya’ (beloved friend). The word for inspire or advancing is ‘fraanshtaa’( Page 357 column 2 of the Avesta dictionary by Ervad K.E Kanga).
Yasna Ha 43.14 Asho Zarathushtra has linked the concept of a welwisher friend who causes progress (frayaai) to wisdom (vaedemno) and power (isvaa) and request Mazda for these to as to achieve bliss and advancement (rafeno and frakhshnenem). In Yasna Ha 46.2 Asho Zarathushtra prays saying that he is appealing to Ahura Mazda to bestow bliss (rafeno) and support Him as one friend to another (fryo frayai daidit).
Frashokereti is referred to as ‘renovation while ‘frasho kara’ is one who renovates or makes wonderful (frashokereti). This spiritual advancement is key to the Zarathushti Daena and we refer to the last ten days of the year (earlier used to be 18 days counting the first eight the New Year) as the Fravardigaan. During this time we give gratitude to the fravashis of the departed ones. This period of gratitude to the fravashis of the dear departed accompanied by deep contemplation enables us to go further forward while acknowledge the collective contributions of our ancestors whose blessings we continue to benefit from.
In Yasna Ha 43.14 the word ‘frakhshnenem’ is used in the context of advancing and bliss (Mazda tava rafeno frakhshnenem). Progress is a very important concept in the Zoroastrian Faith. ‘Frasha’ means progressive whie fraidi is progress. ‘Fradatha’ is prosperity while on page 408 of the English dictionary Ervad Kanga states that ‘frashaaupya’ is to push forward. On page 216 column 2 ‘framanagh’ is ‘of friendly help’ while ‘frad’ is to promote.
In the Ushtavaiti Gatha in Yasna 43.6, Asho Zarathushtra guides us that Spenta Mainyu (Bountiful Spirit/Progressive mentality) together with khshatra vairya and vohu manah through whose deeds people of this world become prosperous (fraadente) on account of righteousness (asha). These guides/laws of Ahura Mazda’s wisdom are taught by armaiti (devotion and perfect mindedness) according to my understanding of the translation.
This link between Spenta Mainyu, vohu mana, asha, khshatra vairya and armaiti then lead to completeness (Haurvatat) which helps us achieve ameeratat (that which sustains through time) and then frashokereti (the making wonderful).
In the third verse of the Aatarsh Niyayesh we pray that the Aatash burns for a long time until the mighty Renovation (suraam frasho-keretim). In the fifth verse of the Aatarsh Niyayesh we pray ‘fraadhayaat’ translated by Ervad Kanga as prosperous.
There are other interpretations depending on the context where the word containing ‘fra’ may indicate ‘to go forth’ as in the ninth verse of the Aatarsh Niyayesh where it is said that may the baresman spread with asha (…..baresma vaa ashaya frastaretem).
I would like to finally share that as I understand it, we see the Fravashi – that part of Ahura Mazda in every creation – which we revere in all Creations, this to my understanding is in line with the concept of Ahura Mazda guiding us to go forward in our Spirituality.
I am grateful to all my teachers/guides (rahburs) for helping me to further understand some of the deeper aspects of the Prayers including the late Ervad K. E. Kanga, Mobedaan Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary and Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia and amongst others.
My gratitude also to my Mother and grandfather (Ervad Noshirvan Pestonji Panthaki) for teaching me since my childhood and to my father for encouraging me to conserve the Zarathushti Daena (Zoroastrian Faith).
If the readers find any errors or would like to educate me further, I would appreciate your feedback at email@example.com