Roj Behram Mah Dae, 1381 Yz.
Meanwhile the rebellious courtiers were growingly increasingly worried over Shirooy’s inability to take any decision on the end of Khosrau Parvez. They met in secret and decided on their course of action. On a predetermined day, the courtiers all got together and marched into Shirooy’s court. Seeing them all together, Shirooy thought his end was near. In one voice, the courtiers demanded to know why Shirooy was delaying the final end of the deposed king. They reminded him, in a strong voice, that there could never be two Kings alive. One would have to go and the other would stay. The courtiers were worried that in case there was a turn of events and Khosrau Parvez recaptured the throne, they would all be dead men. But the weakling Shirooy was incapable of taking any decision. He therefore instructed the courtiers to themselves come up with a final solution. Shirooy reminded them that there was no one in the Kingdom who would dare to assassinate the deposed King.
The courtiers grew happy that they had been given a free reign to do as they pleased. Soon they came upon a person perfectly suited for the job. He was a ugly-faced vagabond, a mercenary, with no scruples or relatives, totally bereft of emotion. He was interested only in earning a quick buck and did not care about the consequences of his action. This mercenary had the unlikely (and unsuited) name of Meher Hormuz. He was taken to the leader of the rebels, Farrokhzad who quickly convinced himself of the assassin’s ability to do the needful. Promising him untold riches, Farrokhzad gave him a mean dagger of good Indian steel and an accomplice soldier to make him find his way to Khosrau Parvez. In the dead of night, Meher Hormuz approached the palace of Mahrespand along with his guide.
At that time, Khosrau Parvez was alone in his room, with a young helper boy at his side. As Meher Hormuz entered the King’s chamber, Khosrau Parvez realized that his time was up. He instructed the young boy to quickly get a basin and a jug of water, along with a set of new, white clothes. As the assassin waited, the young slave carried a gold basin in to the King’s presence and jugs of pure water, along with a set of new, white clothes. The poor boy did not understand what was happening. The King asked the boy to leave the room. He then rose up, washed his hands, face and body with the pure water. He put on the set of new clothes and then took the Holy Barsam (the sacred twigs of the Haoma plant) which were used by the Kings of that time to recite prayers before every meal. As he sat down to perform his last Baj, the King offered genuine Patet for all his sins and thanksgiving to the Yazads for all they had bestowed on him.
Finishing his prayers, the King silently nodded to the assassin, who (despite all his roughness and lack of emotion, had enough courtesy to allow the King his last wish) waited with his dagger drawn. Khosrau Parvez lay down on his couch and covered his face with a white sheet so that he may not have to see the ugly face of his murderer. Meher Hormuz moved in quickly and with one hand tore off the sheet from the King’s face, and with the other expertly plunged the sharp dagger into the Kings liver, thrusting and turning it as he quickly and efficiently finished his sordid act. With a silent prayer on his lips, Khosrau Parvez left this earth, to begin his journey to the other realm. In this manner, one of the greatest Kings of the Sassanian monarchy met his tragic and ignoble end. Here is a miniature painting depicting this tragic scene.
As morning came and the news of King Khosrau Parvez’s death spread like wildfire, there was great discontent in the Kingdom. The populace roundly cursed the weakling Shirooy and the courtiers for their treasonous activity. But soon, life went back to normal. Khosrau Parvez’s wife Shirin, went into mourning for her lost husband. Fifty three days after the King’s death, Shirooy sent a message to Shirin, asking her to be present in the court to answer charges that she had practiced witchcraft and made Khosrau Parvez turn against Shirooy. The Queen was much displeased with Shirooy’s foolishness and asked him to call an assembly of wise men, where she could put forward her defense. Shirooy agreed and called fifty wise and aged men to the court to listen to Shirin’s defense.
On the appointed day, the Queen dressed in the mourning colours of black and blue and approached the court, preserving her modesty and royal stature behind a silk screen. But seeing her regal stature and amazing beauty, even from behind the silk screen, Shirooy’s mind turned from anger to lust. He now instructed Shirin to become his queen. Shirin answered loudly – ‘on one hand you accuse me of sorcery, and now you want me to join your harem?’ The lust in his mind made Shirooy go crazy. He regretted his accusation and said that it had been said in a moment of anger.
But Shirin would not let him off so easily. She addressed the court: ‘O assembled leaders and wise men! There are three things which proclaim the virtue of a royal lady: firstly, modesty even in the lap of luxury; secondly giving birth to illustrious sons who would take forward the legacy of their father; thirdly impeccable and angelic beauty which would set a standard for other ladies of the court to follow. Ever since I became queen of Khosrau Parvez, I acted with great modesty, performing works of charity for the old and the poor. Secondly, I bore four illustrious sons – Nastoor, Shaharyar, Farood and Mardanshah. Yet, tragedy has struck my family and they are now all with their heavenly father! Regarding my beauty, I am the same now as I was when I first met the king, there is not a single line on my face! Behold ye all, the real beauty which is God given and not from sorcery!’
Saying so Shirin stepped out from behind her curtain and exposed her face to the assembled court, and made her long lustrous hair lose and tumble on to the floor. Nobody had seen such beauty anywhere. As the elders gaped with mouths dribbling with saliva, Shirooy was further inflamed with lust. He could not muster control over his body and shouted out: ‘I want none but you. You shall be my queen!’ The charming woman replied: ‘I will be queen after you have agreed to two of my conditions.’ ‘Name them!’ panted the lusty weakling. ‘Return to me all the things which have been confiscated from my palace’, said the Queen. Shirooy immediately agreed and the Queen returned to her palace to find all the articles returned. She then assembled her trusted servants and assistants. She gave them costly gifts and freed all the slaves. She then made a list of donations to various Daremehers around the Kingdom, and gave away the rest to the poor. She set up Trusts for celebrating the festivals of Navroze and Meherangan and the Gahambars. She kept aside a large amount of money for carving out homes from the rocky mountains where wise sages could sit and meditate. She then put on white, camphor-scented clothes and placed around her a neck a thick gold chain with a special capsule strung through it.
She then went to the King and asked for her second wish: ‘I wish to open the Dakhma of my beloved husband and see his body one last time.’ The weakling Shirooy agreed. Shirin was escorted to the special Dakhma where Khosrau Parvez’s body had been laid and the watchman opened the door for her. Seeing her husband’s body there, the noble lady started lamenting and cursing her fate and that ignoble step son of her’s who had the indecency to want to sleep with her. Offering her last prayers, the Queen opened the capsule from her necklace and emptied the strong poison into her mouth, and then sat with her back resting on the Dakhma wall, next to the body of her husband. Soon her breath became shallow and as the poison performed its function, the Ruvan of Shirin was on its way to join her husband in the other realm.
When Shirooy heard what had happened all his lust vanished and he fell intensely ill. He ordered another Dakhma made for Shirin. As he rued his fate, Shirooy became increasingly isolated. In a few months, he too was poisoned. Thus ended his ignoble reign. His son Ardeshir ascended the throne but within six months he too was killed by Piruz, another son of Khosrau Parvez. The crown now passed on to Goraz, another favourite of Khosrau Parvez. But within a few months, trouble erupted between the King and his sons, who were eager to ascend the throne. Soon, Goraz was killed by one of his own son’s Shahran. In the internecine fighting, all the sons also killed each other.
Her reign lasted six months, the notable feature of which was her killing Piruz who had in turn killed Ardeshir. She fell ill (probably due to poisoning) and was soon gone. Now another daughter (or sister) called Azarmidokht ascended the throne of Iran.
She lasted all of four months before she too died mysteriously. Now Farrokhzad ascended the throne. But he could not even last one complete month, before he was given poisoned wine by a slave whom he had punished.
In this manner, the throne finally passed on to Yezdezerd Shaharyar on Roj Ashishvangh of Mah Spendarmad (the day the Holy Muktad starts). The noble, illustrious, brave but tragically unfortunate emperor ruled for twenty years, before the battle of Qadisiyah (16th to 19th November 636 AD) and the disastrous battle of Nehavand (December 641-Jan 642 AD) turned the tide in favour of the Arabs. The Sassanian empire was finished. Yezdezerd Shaharyar was on the run for 10 years, trying to rearrange his forces and attack the Arabs. But it was not to be. Tired and in hiding, he came up to a miller and asked for food. As bread was given, he asked for the Holy Barsam, so that he could recite the Baj. The miller realized who he was and murdered him, robbed him of his royal jewels and threw away his body in the nearby river. It was retrieved later by some Christian priests who then arranged for a Zoroastrian funeral.
Readers of Frashogard, this is the way our empire disintegrated and fell apart. The days of glory ended and the days of misery started. Two hundred years later, the descendants of those brave warriors made their journey to India, landing on the shores of Sanjan. We are the descendants and remnants of those brave and spiritually advanced souls. As our community faces grave threats and dangers from within, those of us who have the faith, wait and prepare for the coming of the Promised One, so that we may be led, once again to our motherland Iran. May that day come soon!
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram