A Manual of Khshnoom
The Zoroastrian Occult Knowledge
The first time the master ever gave a glimpse of his deep Zoroastrian religious lore was at the fire-temple of the Bagh-iParsa in Surat. The Principal of the Mission High School, Surat, the late Mr. Manchershaw Palanji Kekobad was running a 'Bazm' or Institution for the purpose of imparting Zoroastrian religious instruction to some Parsee youths of the time. In the 'Ustad Saheb Memorial Volume' (p. 251 seq.) Mr. Manchershaw writes as follows:
"One day a boy had given a brief discussion on 'Fire'. At that time Seth Behramshah was present there. He started asking the boys in a soft tone, 'Do you know anything about 'Atash-i_Berezi Sawangha'? Have you learnt about 'Atari-Vohu Friyan'? Did you hear anything about 'Atash-iDara', 'Ader Froba', 'Ader Gushasp'? We were taken aback. So we requested him to enlighten us on those topics. Thereupon he indicated the outlines about the sixteen kinds of 'Atash', i.e., Fire-energies. On the next day we requested him to speak again on the same subject. His lecture would include Persian and Arabic terms that were absolutely foreign to us.
The subject was entirely new, and its treatment also different. That is why we got him to speak on it four or five times, and then we could grasp about I/8th of what he said. In this way, the 'Bazm' began to have the Master everyday amidst it. Gradually the Ilmi-Khshnoom started spreading among the boys. Thus Some three years passed. During the time the thought of taking_the Master to Bombay to disclose the Ilm-i-Khshnoom there, constantly occurred to the writer (Mr. Manchershaw) in which the Invisible Masters helped."
"Just at this time it so happened that Mr. Kaikhushru, Choksi of Bombay came to Surat and disclosed his scheme of opening a class in that city where zealous young students of the priestly class could be given sound religious knowledge coupled with English, Persian and other subjects, so that, they could be brought out from the pit of ignorance. He also promised to give scholarships from his own purse. But the crux of the question was to fix the nature of religious instruction to be given. Mr. Choksi found the knowledge imparted (through philology) on rationalistic lines very bare and dry and so he requested me to get him a religious teacher who could impart to his students the knowledge of the type he wanted. At this juncture I told him certain facts about Behramshaji. The very same day Mr. Choksi got me to accompany him for an interview with Behramshaji. From the talks Mr. Choksi was convinced that Behramsha was the person fit for his class. He disclosed his scheme and solicited Bahramshaii to undertake the work of imparting religious instruction.
The Unforeseen Hitch
"But Behramshaji refused.
'No amount of solicitations would prevail upon him to change his mind. He persisted in his objection saying that Mata', the Time factor was not suitable. This is a Material Age' he said, 'and this knowledge was not one to be wasted on inappreciative listeners, as it would be like throwing pearls before swine. It is to be placed only before the Talib-i-Ilm, i.e. the true seekers for knowledge'. Mr. Choksi left the Herculean task to me. Somehow I succeeded in getting Behramshah round after two or three attempts, despite his remonstrances. How I was able to manage to overcome his resolute mind, I can't say. Evidently the distant Invisible Masters had played their part in solving the deadlock."
Ilm-i-khshnoom Classes Conducted by the Master in Bombay
Those who succeeded in persuading Behramshaji to give his consent to deliver lectures in Bombay and who made the necessary arrangements for the same, were the late learned Mr. Kaikhusru Burjorji Choksi, the late learned Ervad Pheroze Shapurji Masani and the late Ervad Sohrab Jamaspji Panthaki. At first Behramshah conducted Mr. Kaikhusru Choksj's private classes for the Athornans (priests) at the Anjuman Atash Behram (fire temple). On his establishing in 1910 the 'Zoroastrian Ilm-i-Khshnoom Institute' the Alma Mater of this beatific Knowledge he conducted classes for some time in the Sodawaterwala's Fire Temple, and thereafter in the Banaji's Fire-Temple. But at last the late learned Mr. Dinshah S. Masani requested the Master to deliver his lectures on Ilm-e-Khshnoom in the hall of the 'Parsi Vegetarian and Temperance Society' (which was under his management) and the Master acceded to his request.
Not only did this Parsi Vegetarian Society and its sister institution, the Zoroastrian Raadi Society (established later) put their spacious lecture hall at the service of the Master, but these two institutions dedicated to the great cause of Khshnoom their finances, their 'Frasho-Gard' (i.e. Renovation) quarterly magazine, their 'Frasho-Gard' printing press, and above all, their best expert workers of the time like the good and enthusiastic (the late) Ervad Sohrab Panthaki, (the late) learned Ervad Pheroze S. Masani, (the late) learned Merwan Katgara and (the late) learned Mr. Dinshah S. Masani. Thanks to all these workers the active propaganda for spreading the pristine pure knowledge of Khshnoom in the community could be conducted zealously.
Vast literature in the shape of books and pamphlets in the Gujarati language was produced and thousands of copies of each publication were distributed. This was done either entirely free of cost or at nominal price. With regard to the expenses incurred, the inspiring presence of the Master, it is true, attracted public donations, both large and small, yet it is doubtful if that propaganda work would have been possible to such a large extent without the help of the Societies' funds.
Thus there was something remarkable in the good fortune of the above two Societies that made them the sponsors of that beatific knowledge, whereby they became the bulwark of orthodoxy and their lecture hall the platform of Khshnoom.
Light out of Darkness
Here (in this lecture hall) the Ustad Saheb conducted for years his two-day fortnightly classes; here flocked the learned besides the common people and drank the nectar of Khshnoom which Ustad Saheb had brought from his Magav- Masters-in-seclusion, and which he did cautiously and sparingly pour out to the extent of their mental calibre and equipment for imbibing such abstruse knowledge.
Thus did Ustad Saheb fill with joy the hearts of the Zoroastrian devotees who were seekers after the true knowledge of their Faith, and spread light in the community that was groping in the dark in spite of the teaching of the philological school. In this great cause the two Societies above mentioned have been fortunate enough to render great service with all the resources at their command. We earnestly wish they may be able to maintain their past high traditions of religious service to the community.
As regards the great stimulus, which the propaganda of Khshnoom received at the time, the reader's attention may well be drawn to one very important contributory factor. Year after year under the auspices of the Zoroastrian Radih Society and supervision of the Master himself, the Fasli Takchian (second grade Muktad,) ceremonies were celebrated in the suburbs of Bombay among natural surroundings far away from the impure atmosphere of city life. In these ceremonies glass vases were used instead of the usual metal (silver or german silver) vessels.
This was in accordance with the teachings of the Ustad Saheb who explained that whenever the Zoroastrian Calendar was disorganized, owing to not taking into account the leap year, metal vases cannot be consecrated for each individual departed soul as was and is the current practice, as it is opposed to the teachings of the Zoroastrian religion. The Master further explained that under such circumstances pure glass vases filled with pure well water should be used as containers for holding flowers possessing superior Khoreh (Aura) in the ceremonies for 18 days. He further taught that such Takchian ceremonies should be performed for the benefit of groups of souls concerned who are attracted to these ceremonies during this holy period.
To the above type of ceremonies consecrated by Zoroastrian Radih Society hundreds of devoted Zoroastrians flocked to pay their homage year after year, and thus the teachings of Khshnoom received very wide publicity.
The Late Ervad Pheroze Masani – A Great Worker In the Cause of Khshnoom
In the galaxy of the principal workers for the propaganda of llm-i-Khshnoom during Ustad Saheb's time, one figure that stands out prominently is the late Ervad Pheroze Shapurji Masani, - M.A.LL.B., Solicitor. The wonderful knowledge, which the Ustad Saheb imparted, was really and clearly grasped by this great scholar who spread it in the community in a language, which was as simple and comprehensible as it was learned and masterly. He had a very bright career at the University, and was a profound scholar of Avesta-Pahlavi-Pazand and Persian, and while the scholars of the world possess only the linguistic knowledge of these languages, Ervad Pheroze and his brother Dinshah Masani were the only scholars in Ustad Saheb's time who were proficient in both the branches of the Avesta study, viz., philology and Khshnoomic exegesis. Besides this, he (Ervad Pheroze) possessed great knowledge of the intricacies of the Zoroastrian ceremonies, and the strict principles of Purity enjoined in the religion.
He had gone through the usual Navar-Maratab training of a Parsi priest and led a life that was in tune with the Zoroastrian canons of purity compatible with his times. Despite these high qualifications and learning, he was a very modest and un-assuming worker, who dedicated his life to the service of the Master and the service of his religion. Besides his interesting lectures, he spread the Ilm-e-Khshnoom through the "Frasho-gard", the quarterly magazine of the Parsi Vegetarian Society, which Society he had established with the help of his co-workers. As the Master disclosed new branches of the difficult lore of the Ilm-e-Khshnoom, Ervad Pheroze went through them with remarkable intelligence, and with his knowledge of philology he quoted references from the Pahlavi, Pazand, Avesta etc., which lent support to and embellished the sublime teachings of the Master. Had it not been for this enlightened assistant it is doubtful whether Ilm-e-Khshnoom could have gained the rapid publicity as it did, in the community in the time of the Master.
For expounding his lore the Master employed certain 'Keys' for unraveling different branches of knowledge. Each 'Key' opened out a wide vista of the subject concerned. Thus to say in extreme brevity, Key No.1 contained the "Description pf the Pre-Cosmo-Genesis or pre-Universe world". Key No.2 taught the 'Description of the Map and Cosmography of the Universe", particularly of the Space between the earthy globe and the heaven of the Moon at the bottom of the planetary world, of the cosmic regions, stations etc., of which there are numerous references in Avesta, Pahlavi and Pazand, and there is detailed cosmography in Khshnoom, while in philology it is conspicuous by its absence.
Key No.3 dealt with the "Commentary on the self-created-Iong-cycle-of-Time" referred to in the Avesta as 'Zarvane-daregho-khadat, which according to Khshnoom comprises 81,000 years, and dealt with the 'Calculations of the heavens' during that long Time, treating in terms of major, inter and minor planetary Time-cycles, (especially of ancient Iran), the periods of rise and fall of the Zoroastrian religion within the above mentioned 81,000 years. In this way, these Keys impart ready and genuine knowledge connected with the Zoroastrian spiritual and exegetical Teachings quite unknown in philology and in which guess-work has no place.
It was owing to his (Masani's) receiving such deep and concatenated knowledge with the help of such Keys, which emboldened him to write to the then learned Principal of the Mulla Feroze Madressa of Avesta and Pahlavi, that the knowledge he derived in three months through Khshnoom was more than what he acquired in five years through Philology. This shows the superiority of Khshnoom over Philology, in the matter of exegesis, though for that reason it is not intended to under-rate the undeniable importance of the philological study of Avesta and Pahlavi. In fact, in order to understand the Zoroastrian religion in its pristine purity and fullness, one must have knowledge of both the sides of Zoroastrian religious studies, namely, philology and Khshnoom. To become a competent scholar of Avesta it is essential to have a perfect mastery of philology as well as of its inner esoteric knowledge called Khshnoom.
In the Master's time especially between 1910 and 1920 several series of public lectures were delivered in the Anjuman FireTemple Hall in Bombay. During such series of lectures it was noticed that though the various subjects treated by the Master were of extremely abstruse type and each series generally continued successively for a fortnight, the large lecture hall used to be packed with an audience who included many highly educated ladies and gentlemen besides the Avesta-Pahlavi scholars. During these lectures it was the practice for Ervad Pheroze first to read out a paper and then Ustad Saheb (the Master) himself explained for about half an hour some new points on the same subject. Besides these lectures, articles on various religious subjects were often published in the daily paper 'Jam-eJamshed' and in the New Year Numbers of the 'Sanj-Vartaman.
All these lecture-papers and newspaper articles were prepared rapidly and in a masterly way by Ervad Pheroze with the aid of the above said 'Keys' by embellishing the expositions of Khshnoom with scriptural references of Avesta and Pahlavi, besides giving English, Latin, Persian, Arabic or Sanskrit equivalents for the technical terms of Khshnoom wherever available, all couched in simple, lucid Gujarati language, thus bringing about happy fusion of both the exoteric and esoteric sides of Avestan studies, the life force to which all was the Master's heart-rejoicing expositions of Khshnoom.
In the articles contained in the Ustad Saheb Memorial Volume published as "Frasho-Gard" Volumes 17 & 18 we find one common note of astonishment felt by the various learned writers as to how the Master could keep up in his lectures the remarkable systematization and concatenation of the subjects dealt with so characteristic of him.
The Master's method of disclosing and infusing knowledge was quite certain and methodic, leaving no room at all for confusion. In his lectures, sometimes it was felt that he was digressing from the subject dealt with, but soon would the listener realize that instead of taking him: straight up a steep climb of intricate subject, he was taking him round the mountain by a circuitous path, long but easy. But one thing was certain that a regularized and definite system pervaded throughout his lectures and articles, whether they were in his highly technical pithy language or in ordinary delineation of a subject. Whenever he commenced a fresh topic, he would start with AHU (the Absolute One without a second) or Ahunavar (Ysn. 19) or Ahura Mazda, the creator, suitable to the nature of the topic selected for exposition, and then come to the subject in point, connect it with the main topic and finally link it up again with its origin, thus completing the circle of thoughts.
The unique characteristic of the Master's version of a subject was that unlike the generality of lecturer’s who reproduce what they have read; he (the Master) was expounding Nature's phenomena and noumena, which he had actually seen in "Sijda".
During private interviews when the Master was not minded to divulge something or when he did not want to cross the limit set by himself for disclosing the Khshnomic knowledge, but when someone interviewing him continued to press for more knowledge, or when someone visited him with the intention of testing his knowledge, he would give some such evasive answer as, "Pheroze Masani) writes all this, I do not understand Avesta or English"; and thus even passed himself off as an ignoramus, when he considered some interviewer undesirable. Sometimes he would smilingly relate some anecdotes in the class. With those who talked tall, he would never enter into a controversy, nor offend them in any way. He would sometimes say in the class: "Our Masters have taught the art of nodding, according to which when someone talks in an imposing way, one must hear him and keep nodding to what he says". He cared nothing if the man would go to his friends and boast that he had fooled Behramshah in this way and that.
Despite all this, if a really ardent seeker of knowledge or same truly advanced scholar approached him with questions, the Master would first quickly test his 'Maddo' (mental equipment), and find out how far that person would be able to grasp the explanation that he may give. Accordingly, he would answer having regard to the calibre of the questioner's mind. When he saw the need he would go deeper. In this way to the same question put by different persons he would give explanations in keeping with the individual intelligence of each. Because of this sometimes people misconstrued him and accused him of inconsistency in his answers.
For unfolding the lore of IIm-e-Khshnoom, the Master used to scrupulously observe the restrictions, rules and standards such as:
1) Mata means the dominating power of Time and the right time in nature for any work. No great mission can be fulfilled if the Time currents are not in harmony, resulting in the waste of all the labour, time and energy employed in it.
For want of the RIGHT TIME in nature the Master did not disclose the treasure of his knowledge for nearly three decades since his return to India.
2) Maddo signifies Mental Equipment. To grasp the difficult esoteric knowledge of IIm-e-Khshnoom relating to the mysteries of Nature and to the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti Religion, a particular mental equipment and taste are essential. That is why for some years in the beginning the Master was against reducing the knowledge to writing or allowing any of the audience to take notes. About this, he says in the preface to the IIm-e-Khshnoom Series No.1 published in 1911:
"When due to the pressure of my friends and wellwishers I began to deliver public lectures on the Ilm-e- Khshnoom in Bombay_ I was asked from all sides to have my lectures printed and published. But I used to refuse to do so. The purpose behind such refusal was that the people's 'Maddo' (Mental Equipment) for the Ilm-e-Khshnoom was not properly developed; and without the Maddo having been developed, even, if ordinary teaching of the IIm-eKhshnoom were printed, there was great risk of the sense being misunderstood."
3) and 4) Other two principles that the Master observed in his teaching were "Beesh-Peesh". "Beesh" means "not too much" and "Peesh" means "not too early". Such a double restriction he always observed. In receiving the knowledge of Ilm-e-Khshnoom, an ardent learner must always remember, said the Master too often, the following advice in aphorism:
"Bisyar makhoor" beesh makhoor,
Peesh makhoor, fash masaz
Geh geh khoor, andak khoor,
Peene khoor ............................
Chunan che ke che mi khoori ......
"Do not drink much; do not drink more than required;
Do not drink too early;
do not disclose the fact of having drunk;
Drink at intervals, drink in secret,
Drink little by little .....
What is it that you must so drink?
It's the wine of the Ilm-e- Khshnoom".
The Master always jealously guarded the Teaching and was anxious that due respect was paid to it. He did not believe in wasting the knowledge in the sense that he never disclosed it to those who were not extremely eager to receive it. Similarly, when outside the regular classes some talk on the lore was going on and an outsider came up and began to talk on lighter topics, the Master would immediately change his subject and join the outsider in his talk. Even when he noticed that the attention of the true seekers of the lore was not fully concentrated he would stop further exposition. In this way as far as the unfolding of the lore was concerned, in the absence of particularly suitable circumstances he observed amazing reticence, and was never eager to show off his knowledge.
On page 51 of the book of Ancient System of Zoroastrian Education the Master has indicated four pillars of the teaching of Ilm-e-Khshnoom. They are as follows:
1) TARIKAT: Tarikat means Procedure. It embodies the collection of fundamental principles, containing the sum total of the lore and the observance of various canons of purity.
2) MA'AREFAT: Ma'arefat signifies the agency or the laws of concatenation working in the universe. According to these laws a particular object evolves or advances by functioning through the agency of another object or objects, the collection of such laws of agencies is known as 'Ma'arefat'. In such a collection lies the essence of all knowledge and philosophy.
3) HAKIKAT: Hakikat lit. Implies the Truth. This means that the essence of whatever is achieved in any sphere through the employment of 'Tarikat' and 'Ma'arefat', i.e. whatever essence of Truth is acquired is known as 'Hakikat'. It is the fundamental emanation of every essence. Speaking more plainly, it means that without passing through Tarikat and Ma'arefat, the Hakikat i.e. Truth or the essence cannot be achieved.
4) VAHEDANYAT: Vahedanyat means the apex. It signifies that in whatever subject the ulterior goal has been set, for the achievement of which, the knowledge of Tarikat. Ma'arefat and Hakikat has been acquired, then the centre of that ulterior goal is called Vahedanyat.
In the many divisions and sub-divisions of the lore, these four terms Tarikat, Ma'arefat, Hakikat and Vahedanyat have different connotations according to the context.
With regard to the chief divisions of the ultimate knowledge of all kinds, Ancient System of Zoroastrian Education (p. 142) tells us that the holy Prophet Zarathushtra has indicated the four great divisions of all knowledge.
- Ilm-e-Reemiavi and
No knowledge, no learning, no philosophy, no art, no craft has ever existed or shall ever exist which would fall outside this four-fold classification of the Ultimate knowledge of all things.
(1) Ilm-e-Seemiavi means the knowledge of 'formulae', which includes the evil as well as the good 'formulae'. It also includes the talisman the amulet, the Nirang (good or secret formulae) etc., possessing power in Nature, the Philosophy behind them as well as philosophy at large, literary arts, the science of different alphabets, as well as the knowledge of black-art.
(2) Ilm-e-Keemiaivi: Ilm-e-Keemiaivi includes chemistry and the arts and crafts arising there-from as well as the preparation of various medicines. There also exists an evil side to the Ilm-e-Keemiaivi. According to this, various chemical compounds may be so prepared as to cause protracted suffering leading to death if applied to any part of the body even in a very small quantity or fraudulently administered in eatables or food. Contrary to this, some medicines can be so prepared that if taken in a certain quantity fur a particular period, would render the consumer immune to poison, i.e. he would become poison-proof.
Besides, with regard to Ilm-e-Keemavi (Chemi-avi), the Master used to explain why Alchemy was a truth in Nature. He said that the four elements, namely, fire, air, water and earth, compose the entire Evanescent Worlds, which are subject to change and decay. These elements are interchangeable, and capable of ultimately entering the Hasti, the permanent luminous worlds. In other words, these elemental combinations are capable of being converted into light, i.e. they can be alchemized. Alchemy, a branch of Ilm-e-Keemiavi (Chemiavi) was once slighted by Advanced Chemistry as being a defrauding art is now willingly recognized by the self-same science as one of its branches.
(3) Ilm-e-Reemiavi: Ilm-e-Reemiavi means the art of manufacturing artificial things so well that they may be mistaken for the original ones of Nature.
(4) Ilm-e-Leemiavi: Ilm-e-Leemiavi means Engineering such as the building of ships, the extraction of water by keeping the soil under observation. By this is meant the engineer's art of equalizing the levels of waters existing underground at different depths; for instance, if there be water in a place 45 feet below the surface of the soil, and at another close to it below 25 feet, then according to Ilm-e- Leemiavi they can be brought to a common level.
Footnotes and references:
Installation of copper or silver or glass vases filled with sacred well water holding fresh roses and other flowers (with sterns) of superior aura placed on marble-topped tables, and special Ceremonies for the benefit of the departed souls, performed before them during the last 10 days of each Zoroastrian year, and the same continued for the first 8 days of the succeeding new year.