Roj Asman Mah Bahman, 1378 Yz.
While we have now partly understood the reason for the young Behramshah to be taken to meet Sraoshavarez Marzbanji Saheb, just who are all these strange persons, roaming around in Pathan clothes in the lawless North West Frontier Province? What is Demavand and where is Firdaus? It all seems a bit unclear and almost fairy-tale like.
In the Avesta and Pahlavi Pazend scriptures, as well as in the history of Iran, the name of Demavand has a special significance. As youngsters, I am sure many of my readers’ grandparents must have told them the story of King Jamshid, the evil Zohak and Faridun. For those who missed out, the Shah Nameh tells the story of King Jamshid, who introduced the golden age in Iran, many thousands of years ago. It is said that his kingship was so perfect and in synch with the laws of nature that there were no deaths in his kingdom, no disease, poverty or unhappiness. However, it seems later on King Jamshid developed an ego and his pride caused his fall. His place was taken by the evil Zohak, a most ignominious character, whose rule was as disgraceful as Jamshid’s was perfect.
Zohak inflicted untold cruelty on his subjects and started the practice of consuming the brains of two young men of the kingdom everyday, who were selected and slaughtered for his feasting. When this cruelty went on to unbearable levels, there arose a mighty warrior called Faridun, who was brought up in most miraculous conditions by a cow and a pious sage. After storming evil Zohak’s palace, Faridun dealt him a mighty blow with the ‘Guraz’ or the mace with the shape of a cow’s head. (This was made for him by an ironsmith Kaveh, whose 12 sons were slaughtered by Zohak, in memory of the miraculous cow Purmae, who brought up Faridun and who was ultimately killed by Zohak’s soldiers.) (Incidentally, the Guraz with the cow’s head is today the symbol of the Parsi priesthood and all young Parsis who are initiated into the priesthood are given the mace to carry as a symbol of their spiritual authority. The same can be seen hanging on the walls of the Keblas of most Agiaries and Atash Behrams.)
As Faridun was about to kill Zohak, the Yazata Sarosh approached him and told him not to do so since this was not the right time for Zohak to die. The Yazata instructed Faridun to tie up Zohak in massive chains and take him to Mount Demavand, the highest mountain in Iran. Faridun did as he was instructed and the evil Zohak was tied up in fetters in the valley of Mount Demavand. It is said that throughout the day and night, Zohak licks the chains with his abrasive tongue. By the time of dawn, he manages to grind down the chain to a hair width. Just as he is about to break the chain and set himself free to start his destruction and evil again, the cock crows in the valley. The cock is the spiritual assistant of the Yazata Sarosh (which is why most Parsis eat chicken but not cockerels), and by his crowing the chains around Zohak become of full strength once more, thereby not allowing Zohak to escape.
What is the real meaning behind this fantastic story which was recounted faithfully by generations of Parsis? When Ustad Saheb Behramshah returned from Demavand and began his mission, this was one of the many questions put to him. Ustad Saheb explained that the story has two levels of understanding. One is the simple story as recounted in the Shah Nameh and as handed down as part of our oral tradition. The deeper meaning is as follows: the evil in this world is divided in to ten categories. All humans, because of their inherent composition (see my earlier post on ‘What is prayer’ to understand this point) have the seeds to fall prey to these ten types of evil. However, the good part of their bodies keeps this evil doing potential in check, with the net result that some of the ten categories of evil are present in varying intensities in all humans.
However, in a particular time cycle, there will be one individual, who will be so evil that he will be the actual personification of all the ten evils. This person will do evil just for the sake of doing evil. Such a person, who is totally controlled by the dark forces is known in the Avesta as ‘Dah-aka’ ‘Of ten evils’. This Dahaka becomes Zohak in the Shah Nameh. Zohak is thus the personification of all that is evil in this world. If he is allowed a free reign, the very future of the earth would be threatened. For this purpose, the white side of nature prepares the Hero Faridun (who is known in the Avesta as Thraetaona) to give battle to Zohak and finally defeat him. Thus Zohak was defeated and killed by Faridun.
But the evil which he personified continues to exist in the world in varying degrees. This evil, which will exist in some or the other, till the end of the world at the end of this time cycle, is kept in control by the many assistants and co-workers of the white side of nature. The greatest helpers of the white side of nature is the secluded community of Demavand. It is for this reason, that the Shah Nameh mentions that Zohak was bound in the valley of Mount Demavand! As the day progresses, the evil thoughts, words and deeds committed by men and women all over the world help to increase the overall level of evil in the world, which is depicted by the story of Zohak licking the chains that bind him and taking them to breaking point. The Hidden Masters of Demavand, whose only function in nature is to keep evil in control and be the guardians of our Parsi community, undertake the most difficult and divine mission of undoing the evil committed by all of us.
These Great Sages pass the nights not in sleep, but in wakeful prayer, performing the most miraculous ceremonies, which result in the evil being kept in overall control and check. Thus as the sun rises, the work done by the Great Masters of Demavand is taken up by Khurshed Yazad (the Divine Entity behind the physical sun) and the purifying rays of the morning sun, along with Sarosh Yazad, the Prime Minister of this earth in the Divine Cabinet, eradicate the bad effects of the evil created the previous day and night. This is explained in the story by the metaphor of the cock crowing and the chains reverting to their original thickness.
My dear Parsis, we are living in total ignorance of all this! And we would have continued to live thus had it not been for the advent of our beloved Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff. Thousands of Salaams to his pure Ruvan! And hundreds of thousands of Salaams to those Great, Hidden Masters of Demavand, who are our true protectors and saviours! Despite all this overwhelming knowledge, there are some Parsis who refuse to believe in the existence of the Hidden Sages of Demavand! In their constant search for materialism and comfort, they have the audacity to ridicule those of us who remember the Ruvan of our most beloved Ustad Saheb and the Great Magavs of Demavand in every moment of our sinful lives, craving for their forgiveness and protection!
Where would be without these majestic and lofty souls! My fellow hum-dins! No scheme of the Parsi Punchayet will save us, no great Trustee and their parties and dinners will rescue us, no government reservation will uplift us, no increase in the number of houses will solve our community’s problems! The only thing which will save us and lead us to the path of salvation is the constant chanting of our Avesta prayers, sticking to our age-old traditions, and unflinching faith in our Prophet Zarathushtra and His Authorized Descendants – the Hidden Masters of Demavand!
Please let us all wakeup from our materialistic slumber and follow the path shown to us by our religion and as so beautifully explained by Ustad Saheb. This is the knowledge which is known as Ilm-e-Khshnoom: the deeply mystical knowledge which gives us spiritual ecstasy. This is the knowledge which was brought by our Master from the Abed Sahebs of Demavand. In our next posts we shall understand who these Great Sages are, what they do, how they live and how they transformed a stammering lad of eighteen to an unparalleled Master of All Knowledge.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram