Roj Ardibehesht Mah Ardibehesht, 1383 Yz.
The name of Rostam is forever linked with the name of Babrebiyan. What is the Babrebiyan? The literal meaning of the word is disputed, but the first part ‘babr’ means ‘tiger’ in Persian. According to old sources, the Babrebiyan was the old, hardened and preserved hide of a special animal. This hide had been carefully preserved and then endowed with magical powers which made it, as per the Shah Nameh, water-proof, weapon-proof, fire-proof, dark-coloured and hairy. The many illustrated manuscripts of the Shah Nameh always show the figure of Rostam with this animal hide covering his torso, with either a small head of a tiger near his neck to show that the armour was made from tiger skin. But what is the real meaning of Babrebiyan?
Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff revealed for the first time, the magical details of this armour. Ustad Saheb explained that every person’s Ruvan has fragments in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom. As man progresses, he collects these fragments into his body. Finally when the Ruvan fragments have been all collected and purified, the spiritually advanced person (who would have reached near-Abed status by now) undergoes a secret spiritual ceremony called Pasupach, in which all these fragments are gathered in the shape of a young lamb which is then mystically sacrificed and partaken by the person, thereby integrating all the Ruvan fragments.
Ustad Saheb explained that Rostam’s Ruvan was of the highest spiritual calibre. His Ruvan fragments had been collected and integrated into him long ago. But when Rostam is born in the current ZDK time cycle, his Ruvan fragments come down separately, much before his birth. Thus the Babrebiyan is nothing but the collected Ruvan fragments of Rostam, which came down many hundreds of years before his birth. The Babrebiyan was constructed and energised by the great Peshdadian monarch Jamshid, and placed in a secret Talismanic area not accessible to anyone. Only the Simorgh knew the way to the secret area and the special Manthras needed to open the Talisman. Once Rostam was ready for his life of valour, the Simorgh explained to him the existence of the Babrebiyan and opened the Talisman and retrieved the armour. Once Rostam put on this armour, due to the exalted spiritual status of his Ruvan fragments, no weapon could ever get past him.
Once Rostam had procured the Babrebiyan, the only thing missing was a good horse he could ride on. Now the Simorgh advised Rostam to put on the armour and go to a special area in Iran where there existed large tracts of land dedicated to the rearing and development of horses. These breeding and training grounds were thousands of years old and held the most ancient and prized pedigree of Iranian stocks, which provided the lakhs of horses on which the entire Iranian army relied. As Rostam stood on a hilltop and saw the thousands of horses prancing around, he remembered the Simorgh’s advice. He spied a mare with a very angry temperament along with a foal with an even angrier temperament, who was extremely large in size, much larger than any of the other horses.
As Rostam handled his lasso and prepared to catch the foal, the Keeper of the horses warned him not to take the horse already earmarked for another. Rostam remarked that the horse did not have any brands or signs on him which indicated that he had been reserved. At this moment, the Horse Keeper confided to him, that in their family there was a legend since many years that one day a mighty warrior called Rostam would come and take this horse, whom they called Raksh and lead Iran to victory over her enemies.
Rostam smiled and expertly threw the lasso over the horse. The moment he did so, the mother of the horse charged at him like an angry tigress. Rostam gave a mighty roar like a lion and his loud voice made the mother tremble and stop! He gave two strong slaps to the mother, one on her head and one on her neck and soon the mother was running back to the flock of horses! Rostam then spread his feet wide and began to pull at the lasso, slowly reining in the angry Raksh. As the horse drew close to him Rostam patted his back and pressed his mighty hand over it, to check whether it would give in. To his relief and amazement, the horse did not even budge with the trial weight. Here are a couple of illustrations from old Shah Nameh manuscripts showing Rostam catching Raksh.
Image credits: The Princeton University Shahnama Project: http://etcweb.princeton.edu/shahnama/start.epl
A delighted Rostam immediately swung over the naked back and mounted Raksh for the first time! And how the two rode over the plains! Finally Rostam came back with Raksh to the Horse Keeper and asked the price of the horse. The reply of the Horse Keeper is so memorable and noble that it will bring tears to your eyes! Here Firdausi writes:
Ze chupaan be pursed kin azdahaa
Ba chandasto inraa ke daanad bahaa
Chunin daad paasokh ke gar Rostami
Baru raast kun ruy Iran zami
Marinraa baro bume Iran bahaast
Barin bar to khaahi jahaan kard raast!
“He (Rostam) asked the Horse Keeper: ‘what is the price of this flying dragon, who is it that can value his worth?’ The Horse Keeper replied: ‘If you really be Rostam, then ride on him and make our dear Iran prosperous! His price is the whole of Iran! May you free this world of all evil by riding him!’”
Readers of Frashogard! Marvel at these lines of Firdausi! This is our ancient heritage and culture! This is our history! Those were the days of our glory! A thousand salutations to this majestic poetry!
[to be continued…]
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram