Rostam Nameh 13b: Rostam loses Raksh

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Roj Ava Mah Bahman, 1383 Yz.

Ze Mubed baraangunah bardaasht yaad

Ke Rostam baraaraast az baamdaad

Ghami bud delash saze nakchir kard

Kamar basto tarkash puraz tir kard!

He remembered the saying of an old Mobed:

That one dawn Rostam awoke

He did not feel very good, so decided to go hunting

He tightened his waist and filled the quiver with arrows 

 

With these lines of foreboding, Firdausi begins the episode of Rostam and Sohrab. Readers of Frashogard, there are many times we get up in the morning with a feeling of dread – a feeling that the day is not going to go well, and this foreboding is generally proved true by the time the day passes. These flashes of inspiration are sent out by our ultra-physical bodies, as a warning to be aware and on guard.

As we have read before, Rostam was guided by Sherevar Ameshaspand and Behram Yazad as well as Dami Upamana, the Divine Being presiding over wisdom and foresight. When such advanced souls take birth of earth, even they become subject to the rules of gravity. Even such great souls have their days of errors and confusion. As the time arrived for the real test of Rostam, he awoke at the crack of dawn and his Spiritual Overseers sent the warning to him – this is not going to be a nice day.

But Rostam was the world’s greatest warrior. He heeded the warning but rather than sit at home and mope about it, Rostam decided to tackle the challenge head on. What was Rostam’s greatest love – hunting. So he decided to go hunting to remove the negative thoughts from his head and to recharge his body with the thrill of the hunt. So he tightened his waist and filled his quiver with arrows, put on his Babrebiyan armour and sat upon Raksh. If it was to be a bad day, Rostam would still make the best of it.

Readers of Frashogard, these two simple lines of Firdausi hold great spiritual import. As a spiritually advanced soul and a Poiryotkaesha of the highest order, Rostam was aware of his role and his destiny. He was also aware that he would commit some terrible blunders. Yet he did not shirk from his responsibilities. He decided to fight them like a man, and in doing so, he left an example for all of us, who may feel weak in the heart when a crisis arrives.

In the area of the borders between Iran and Turan, there existed a small kingdom called Samangan, which was quite famous for its vast hunting grounds. Rostam rode to this jungle and began his hunt. The wild ass were aplenty and Rostam’s heart grew glad. He used his bow and arrows to telling effect and soon the hunt was over. Firdausi describes Rostam’s feast thus:

Ze khaaro ze khaashaako shaakhe darakht

Yaki aatashi bar-forruzid sakht

Chu aatesh paraagandeh shud Piltan

Derakhti bejost azdare baabzan

Yaki narrah guri bezad bar darakht

Ke dar change u pare morghi na sakht

Chu beryaan shud az ham bekando bekhorad

Ze magz ustukhaanash baraavarad gorad!

He collected twigs and branches

And lit a blazing fire

When the fire was burning bright

Rostam took the branch of a tree as a skewer

He skewered the wild ass on the branch

As if it were a small chicken being roasted

When it was well done, he stripped off the meat and ate it

And removed the marrow from the bones and had that too! 

I am sure all my Parsi brothers will enjoy this description of Rostam’s feast and wish they were part of it too! And removing the marrow and having it is of course a well-known Parsi trait! And what do we do after a hearty lunch of Dhansak? The same as Rostam did as described by Firdausi below:

Pasaangah kharaamaan beshud nazde aab

Chu siraab shud kard aahange khaab

Bekhofto baraasud az ruzgaar

Chamaano charaan Raksh dar marghzzar!

After finishing his meal he went to a stream nearby

And had his fill of water and decided to take a nap

And he went to sleep without a care in the world

Leaving Raksh to forage in the field nearby.   

As Rostam went off to sleep and Raksh kept watch over him, a posse of soldiers from Turan passed by and saw Raksh. They could not control the temptation of stealing such a fine horse and immediately tried to capture Raksh using their lassos. Raksh fought back and killed three of the soldiers before he was overpowered and carried away to Samangan. The Turanian soldiers realized that they could not keep the horse as its owner was world-feared. So they quickly let loose Raksh in a stable full of attractive mares. Raksh mounted the mares but his weight was so massive that none could bear the strain of the mating. Out of 40 mares, finally one could stand up to Raksh. He mated her and after a painful conception and pregnancy, she delivered a fine horse.

Readers of Frashogard, see how nature works her wondrous ways! Even before Sohrab could be born, nature had already made preparations for his horse! For the offspring of Raksh and the mare was destined to be the horse on which Sohrab would ride to battle and his untimely death. Not only was Sohrab born of Rostam, but even his horse was born of Raksh. Such spiritual closeness and grandeur, could still not forestall what was destined to happen.

Sometime later, Rostam awoke and not finding Raksh made a recce and saw the tell marks of struggle on the ground along with the bodies of the Turanian soldiers. He realized what had happened, and taking his saddle, put it on his shoulders and began to walk to Samangan, where he hoped to find Raksh. Ever the playful poet, Firdausi could not resist the temptation to make a clever couplet out of this incident. He writes:

Chunin ast rasme saraaye durost

Gehi paste zino, gehi zin be pust!

Wondrous are the ways of this world!

Some ride on the saddle,

while some times the saddle rides on the rider! 

Now as the soldiers saw the world champion walking, carrying the saddle on his shoulders, a message was immediately sent to the King of Samangan. Ever respectful of the favourite of the King of Iran, and fearing his temper and strength, the King of Samangan and his courtiers immediately went out of court to meet and greet Rostam and invite his to be their guest. Rostam forthwith ordered the King to ensure that Raksh was found. The King ordered his soldiers to mount a search party and find the valuable horse, while Rostam was escorted to the palace and treated as a most important guest of the King.

[to be continued…]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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