Rostam Nameh 12a: Kai Kaus in Hamavaran

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Roj Gosh Mah Adar, 1383 Yz.


Kazaan pas chunaan kard Kaus ray; Ke dar Padshahi be-jumbai ze jay! 

Az Iran beshud taa ba-Turaan-o Chin; Guzar kard azaan pas ba Makraan zamin! 

Ze Makran shud aaraastah taa Zareh; Meyaanhaa nadeedand bando gereh!

Paziroft har mehtari baazo saav; Nakard aazmun gaav baa shir taav!

Then Kai Kaus thought that he should tour the regions of his Kingdom.

From Iran he went to Turan and China and from there to Makran (Baluchistan).

From Makran to Zareh he went, in full splendour and not a soldier could be seen standing up to him.

Every vassal king accepted his suzerainty and agreed to pay tribute. The weak cow had no intention of testing the powerful lion!  


As the days of rest after the stressful war of Mazandran were over, Padshah Kai Kaus granted leave to Rostam to visit his aged parents in Zabulistan, after plying him with many costly gifts in return for the unprecedented services that Rostam had given to the King and to Iran. The whole empire was peaceful and law and justice prevailed. The huge treasures of Mazandran were added to the Royal Treasury and days of prosperity followed.

Now Padshah Kai Kaus decided to tour the various provinces of his vast empire and so gathered a small force of officers and men and departed from the capital, touring the provinces of Turan, China and Baluchistan. From there, Kai Kaus turned towards the region of Berber in North Africa. The King of Berber tried to offer resistance to the Iranians but after a fierce battle he was defeated.

After annexing Berber, Kai Kaus traversed back into Asia and then crossed the Caucasus mountain range to finally arrive in Zabulistan – the home of Rostam. Here the Padshah caught up with the great warrior and spent many days hunting and partying.

But soon news arrived of trouble in the Empire. The Egyptians has instigated the Arabs and the Berbers and all three had joined hands to fight against the Iranians. The small Iranian presence in Berber was decimated and the territory proclaimed its independence from Iran. Kai Kaus made haste and avoiding the long road route, preferred to sail from Zabulistan and arrived shortly on the Nile river delta- with Egypt on one side and Berber on the other.

Persian Empire. Image courtesy Wikipedia

Persian Empire. Image courtesy Wikipedia

The combined armies of Egypt, Berber and Hamavaran comprising the regions of Phoenicia and Carthage (modern day Tunisian on the African continent) numbering almost a million soldiers awaited the Iranians, who were vastly outnumbered. A fierce battle ensued and the Iranian heroes fought valiantly, led by Gudarz and Gev. Finally the combined forces of the rebels had to give up. The King of Hamavaran was the first to surrender, followed by the Kings of Egypt, Berber and Syria.

News reached Padshah Kai Kaus that the King of Hamavaran had a daughter of exceptional beauty and intelligence called Sudabeh. Kai Kaus selected a wise messenger, drafted a courteous and dignified letter asking for the hand of Sudabeh in marriage and dispatched him to the court of the king of Hamavaran.

When the King of Hamavaran read the message he was mortified. To refuse the Iranian emperor was suicidal. At the same time he could not bear to give his daughter away in marriage to anyone, leave aside an Iranian. He called for his daughter and asked her opinion. To the King’s great surprise, Sudabeh immediately agreed to the marriage. With a heavy heart, the King of Hamavaran agreed to the Padshah’s proposal and after the necessary ceremonies and a moderate exchange of gifts comprising three hundred slaves, forty palanquins, one thousand elephants, and one thousand horses and mules laden with bags filled with gold dinars, Sudabeh was married to King Kai Kaus. As the festivities ensued, a deep and dangerous venom filled the heart of the King of Hamavaran, who began to plot the return of his precious daughter back to him.

After a week of the marriage, the King of Hamavaran sent a sweet message to Kai Kaus, requesting his new son-in-law to come to Hamavaran and enjoy a few weeks of rest and merriment. The intelligent Sudabeh, aware of the covetousness of her father warned Kai Kaus that this could be a trap. But the Padshah was confident and believed in his father-in-law’s sweet words.

The King and his wife, accompanied by many of the Royal Nobles like Gev, Gudarz, Tus, Gurgeen and Zang-i-Shavaran and a small  army arrived in the capital of Hamavaran where they got a rapturous welcome from the King of Hamavaran and his subjects. After a week of feasting and merrymaking, all the King’s nobles too let down their guard and began to enjoy the pleasant surroundings. Taking advantage of their relaxed guard, the King of Hamavaran swiftly dispatched a crack team of selected soldiers who overpowered the Iranian knights and tied them up and imprisoned them in a castle, guarded by thousands of soldiers day and night. They arrested King Kai Kaus and requested Sudabeh to accompany them back to her home. But the faithful wife refused and poured scorn on her father and his treacherous ways. This angered the King of Hamavaran who ordered Sudabeh to be imprisoned along with Padshah Kai Kaus in a dungeon.

When the news of Padshah Kai Kaus’s imprisonment reached Iran and Turan there was great discontentment. Ever ready to take advantage of a bad situation, the Turanian Afrasiab seized the opportunity and invaded Iran and started the age-old practice of looting and pillage. The affected population knew that whenever Iran was in danger, there was only one person they could go to for sure and quick relief – the Pahelwan Rostam. As messengers from Iran and Hamavaran reached Zabulistan bearing the news of the King’s imprisonment, Rostam realized that vacation time was over. He readied his army and sent an advance message to the King of Hamavaran, asking him to free Kai Kaus or face the heavy hand of Rostam.

The King of Hamavaran had of course no intention of giving up the Padshah. He immediately sounded his neighbours – Egypt, Berber and Syria and asked them to join hands with him or face the coming rout. They gathered together a large army and awaited the arrival of the warrior from Zabulistan. Soon Rostam arrived with his army and battle began. After an epic 8-day battle, Rostam defeated the combined forces of Hamavaran, Egypt, Berber and Syria and freed King Kai Kaus from captivity. Padshah Kai Kaus forgave his father-in-law but imposed a heavy tribute on him. thereupon he order Rostam to deal with Afrasiab and drive him out of Iran.

Now Kai Kaus sent a messenger to Afrasiab, asking him to leave Iran or face certain defeat. Afrasiab refused and claimed Iran as his own. Thereafter, Rostam and Kai Kaus marched back to Iran. A fierce battle ensued between the Iranians and the Turanians. Afrasiab goaded his nobles and knights to great frenzy, instigating them to defeat the Iranians. He asked them to try and capture Rostam and promised the hand of his own daughter to anyone who could capture Rostam! Capture Rostam! How was that possible as he moved from one end of the battle to another, smashing the heads of thousands of soldiers with his mace and slicing the heads of thousands with the sword in his other hand!

In the end the result was the same. The Turanians were routed and two-thirds of their army was killed. Afrasiab had no option but to withdraw from Iran and run back to Turan licking his wounds. Firdausi writes a beautiful couplet explaining the sad fate of Afrasiab thus:

Delash khastaho koshtah lashkar do bahar; Hami nosh jost az jahaan yaaft zahar! His heart was broken and two thirds of his army was killed.He searched the world for ambrosia but all he got was poison!  

Now started the golden reign of Padshah Kai Kaus in Iran.

[to be continued…]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram